6 Tips for A New Chief Data Officer

by Jay Marwaha

A guy walks into a bar. The bartender asks, “What’ll it be today?” The guy answers: “Gee, I just don’t know.” Pretty boring joke, right? The same letdown occurs when a new Chief Data Officer has no clear strategy for the future.

The title of Chief Data Officer has only emerged in the past few years and most CDOs today are the very first to be filling that role at their company. And because they typically have no shoes to fill, CDOs tend to walk in barefoot. That is, they come in without any overarching strategy for how the company’s data should be stored, shared and exploited. Big mistake, because the sooner a company develops its data strategy, the more valuable its data will become in the long-term.

Here are 6 tips for an incoming CDO:

1. Think outside the box. Every day, companies are finding new ways to slice and dice data in a valuable way. For instance, internal data like inventory are now helping companies become more efficient. The CDO should make sure to survey all the departments to find out what kind of data is out there, just waiting to be activated.

2. Develop a working plan to define the ways in which data can unlock business outcomes. Don’t set a 1 year plan, let alone a 5- or 10-year plan as this will only get changed multiple times within the first year.

3. Determine who is in charge of what data. That could be several teams – for instance, IT could be in charge of securing it, and Data Analytics in charge of building apps over the data lake.

4. Ensure the company has a logical map for the data. The data lake is an incredibly rich resource, and why it needs to be used smartly. A clear data architecture will save time and money and facilitate the creation of apps.

5. Define a strategy for apps. This should be a central concern for the CDO. After all, the data on its own is like silver in the mine. It is useless until it gets activated. From the outset, the CDO should have a strategy on the types of apps the company should develop versus buy.

6. Start small, scale fast. Find a dataset that is easy enough to pull insights from, such as clickstream (or event) data. The company can leverage this kind of data very quickly, especially with customer analytics that is assisted by AI.

If any of this resonates with you, tweet at me or email me to share your thoughts and experience with, or as, a CDO.

The sooner a company develops its data strategy, the more valuable its data will become in the long-term.

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Jay Marwaha

Founder and CEO of Syntasa

Jay is the Founder and CEO of Syntasa (a Marketing AI Platform loved by Marketers, Data Scientists, and Data Engineers). For the past 12 years, he has been a successful entrepreneur, having started two high-growth companies. Jay also has over 20 years of professional experience in the field of analytics, data science, performance measurement & management, and strategic planning, having worked at several organizations, including American Express, TARP Inc. and Viant Corporation.