CDOs under pressure to drive long-term business value

tech_2Data and analytics chiefs are coming under increasing pressure from company bosses to prove that the huge investments businesses have made in developing data-driven strategies will give them the edge in emerging stronger from the Covid-19 crisis and drive long-term business value.

So says a new Gartner report, “Top Priorities for IT: Leadership Vision for 2021”, designed to highlight the trends and challenges that technology leaders will have to reconcile in the coming 12 months and the actions they can take in response.

Gartner argues that after spending huge amounts on data and analytics, CEOs and boards of directors are beginning to wonder where repeatable, sustainable value will come from. For digital businesses in particular, the pressure is acute as time is running out.

The report maintains that, given that every digital business moment leads to a decision that is powered, or held hostage, by data and analytics, it is no wonder that chronic issues have become more acute.

Siloed data, lack of trust, misalignment to outcomes, a focus on data for its own sake and an assumption that a technology acquisition will be sufficient can be colossal challenges to overcome because there is no quick fix.

It cites three key issues that will have a major impact on chief data officers in the coming 12 months:

– Embedding data and analytics in business strategy. The role of the CDO is one of orchestration and prioritisation. While chief information officers “own” technology assets, CDOs “own” information assets, making them responsible for guiding decision makers at an organisation using data insights.

– Increasing data literacy. This is not about turning everyone into a data scientist, it is about developing a common understanding of what goals and outcomes are important across the organisation, so that all stakeholders contribute to the whole (rather than deflect and misdirect with competing or alternative outcomes).

Once a strategic alignment of understanding is achieved, there is augmented decision making, with new insight and new abilities, to be more thoughtful in actions and decisions, without adding time or cost.

– Using data and analytics to implement change management. CDOs are getting on with the work of driving meaningful change in their organisations but they must base their operations on collaboration, cooperation and problem solving, says Gartner.

CDOs should also create awareness among other employees; stand on their soapbox, give presentations and organize hackathons, but most of all, spread the word about how data and analytics can help drive business outcomes.

Ultimately, CDOs should embed their operations in business results. Moving from technology-centric to data-driven and from siloed separate data strategies to a business strategy infused with data and analytics is the future, Gartner maintains, adding that it is no longer simply about dashboards and reports, it is about augmenting decision making across the business.

The report concludes: “Data and analytics leaders are failing to deliver sustainable business value because of poor governance practices. Adaptive data and analytics differs from traditional approaches that tended to be IT-driven, focused on data and standards.

“Adaptive governance uses business outcomes to prioritise the work and helps you govern the least amount of data with the greatest business impact.”

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