With data moving higher up the business agenda we’re seeing pressure mounting on those responsible to deliver on its demands. As a result, a number of challenges have emerged for both Chief Information Officers (CIO) and Chief Data Officers (CDO) alike, caused by a lack of suitable technology that’s ultimately having a time and cost impact on resources, their ability to support each other and deliver on data strategy. To overcome these, CIOs need to empower the CDO office, as it becomes established, and ease the burden on their own resources in the interim.
CDOs should be the principal data business enabler who spearheads its corporate wide responsibility, helps to bridge the gap of data, people and technology and has a seat on the board. However, while CDO appointments are on the rise, they are not yet in the mainstream and in the absence of a senior data owner, CIOs often find themselves driving data management. This view is backed up by a recent Experian research report "Dawn of the CDO", which found that 60% of CIOs say they are under increased pressure to provide higher quality data.
As the demand for the CDO office increases in momentum, it is still ultimately the CIO’s responsibility to support the infrastructure needs for this function. A key aspect of this is to ensure the right technology is available, which not only makes it self-sufficient, but also relieves the CIO of the legacy pressures of supporting the data-driven initiatives. Technology innovation has the potential to accelerate the success of objectives undertaken by the CDO office, or similar data management functions that support data governance, as suggested in a recent CDO Advisory Note, "Technology that drives the potential of the CDO office".
Having spoken to users who represent both the CIO and CDO offices, I’ve observed challenges that impact both - all of which are created through a lack of fit for purpose technology.
Data users either in the business or the CDO office (where there is one), rely on CIO resources to source and prepare the data required by them for analysis purposes. This typically involves producing data sets from multiple sources and with complex selection criteria. Data users are unable to achieve this as the skills required are often technical, requiring knowledge of coding or programming languages.
The challenge for the CIO is these requests can be ad-hoc in nature, often clash with other planned activities and may require rework, and the frustration for the CDO office is that the data is not available in time, delaying follow on activities.
The solution for the CIO is to provide the CDO office with technology that makes it easier for end users to source, prepare and build data sets. Data users will often know the logic and criteria required to build their target data sets, but do not face any setbacks as they don’t require coding or programming knowledge.
In a similar way to the preparation of data, data users need to be able to present back the results of their findings, and also monitor the progress of data improvement over time. This may require advanced reporting requirements and the creation of dashboards. The barrier for data users is that traditional business intelligence (BI) technology can either require technical skills or many self-service BI tools do not already provide accelerators for disciplines such as data quality and governance. As an outcome, the CIO office is often recruited to develop these reports, which can become software development projects in themselves. From a CIO perspective, these projects may not have been scheduled or budgeted, and again, the data users often may have to wait for the end product.
The solution is to provide the CDO office with technology that makes it easier for end users to develop their own reports, but with built in accelerators for key disciplines such as data quality and governance. The key here again, is reducing or eliminating the need for coding or programming.
Finally, a key concern for the CIO is ensuring any technology investment supports the principles of information governance, such as data security and reducing silos of data across the business. Hence, the solution implemented should allow the CIO office to control the data access and export centrally, ensuring that ease of use does not compromise and end up with data users creating their own “spread-marts”.
Whatever stage an organisation is in its journey towards implementing a CDO office, CIOs ultimately play a major role. As I’ve illustrated above, having the right technology in place can present enormous benefits to efficiency and empowering the business to take control of its own data quality and how it impacts wider strategic benefits.
Experian Pandora can support the CDO office in their data management needs, while alleviating the challenges faced by the CIO office.
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