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Why a CDO is integral to your data-driven strategy and culture

To meet fast-changing consumer buying shifts and the global growth of e-commerce sales, organizations are fast-tracking artificial intelligence and machine-learning initiatives in exchange for real-time, data-backed decisions. And with a 30 percent uptick in plans to shop online in the future, according to recent consumer research, your ability to quickly collect and analyze data will be key to meeting customers’ evolving needs.

“Being a genuinely data-informed business is of huge importance to winning a competitive advantage,” says Paul Malyon, Head of Data Literacy, Experian UK&I.

Maximizing trusted customer and product data so data-driven insights inform pivots in strategy, upsell and cross-sell opportunities, and more starts with democratizing your data and building a common data language. And there’s a data expert you want at the helm of this effort, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Data democratization: A rising enterprise trend

With benefits like improved customer experiences, increased innovation and operational efficiency, and more, it’s no wonder we’re seeing growing interest in democratizing data—or enabling wider usage of data across the business to leverage data insights. In fact, our research shows 77 percent are actively working to put data insights into the hands of more people across the business, but surely with the recent crisis, that number is now even higher. But before you get ready to unlock the IT gates and give business users access to data, there’s a major checkpoint to consider: How data literate is your business?

We found 70 percent of organizations report a lack of data literacy, or the ability to read, work with, analyze, and argue with data, impacts investments in data and technology (hello, costly AI/ML software). While your business users do not necessarily need to write code or complex data workflows, there needs to be a common understanding around data—how to access it, how to leverage it, etc. This is where your chief data officer (CDO)—and if this seat is empty, it’s likely this is a planned future investment—comes in. Cue superhero cloak.

The growing role of the chief data officer

As organizations look to increase data access and usage, the CDO is the natural owner to lead the charge. Our research shows more than 50 percent of organizations have a CDO in place, and the CDO office is often seen as the central focal point for data initiatives and enterprise-wide, data-driven success.

Chartered with practical, outcome-based initiatives that improve the overall hygiene of data, the CDO is able to invest in the right systems, controls, training, and feedback mechanisms to ensure data accuracy does not erode over time—increasing the overall trust in data. This goes a long way to centralizing data governance initiatives and strengthening the case for data quality. We find that when a CDO is present, companies are more likely to have a CRM they can leverage, monetize data assets, and be sophisticated in their data management practices.

Not only is the role of the CDO integral to your data strategy—this position is pivotal to driving forward a data-driven culture. The CDO is often the catalyst for spearheading data literacy initiatives so the entire enterprise adopts a data-driven mentality, regardless of whether employees carry a data job title. Instilling a sense of data ownership and accountability is critical for a much-needed cultural shift to take place and for the level of trust in data to evolve.

Your ability to quickly pivot and leverage data insights across your organization to meet changing consumer demands require business agility, cross-functional collaboration, and a data-literate enterprise to effectively deliver personalized offerings and innovation. And with a CDO in seat, you can accelerate that change at scale.


Looking to empower business users with trusted data insights? Explore the latest data management trends and steps you can take today to become data-driven.

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