How chief data officers can foster a data-driven culture
The role of the chief data officer has changed significantly in the last few years, as organizations collect more data, from more sources and devices, and demand more value from it. In the new report, “Strategic CDOs Accelerate Insights-To-Action,” Forrester Research analyst Jennifer Belissent shares “10 steps to build, scale and sustain an effective data and analytics function — through leadership, best-practice sharing, and the coordinated use of skills and resources.”
“The key to execution lies in an incremental and iterative approach — from prioritizing projects and demonstrating value to building skills, assets, and support over time,” Belissent says.
Embark on a listening tour to understand the needs of business partners.
“The discussions must focus first on what keeps the business leaders up at night; e.g., identifying high-value customers, reducing costs, or optimizing resources. This exercise includes how to serve their customers’ customers — or external customers. Which insights could be offered as services? Data and technology requirements will follow, but they shouldn’t be the opener,” Belissent stresses.
Prioritize potential projects based on estimated ease and impact.
As the list of potential projects emerges, data leaders must prioritize based on what is closest to the customer and on the impact on the bottom line, Belissent says.
Successful CDOs quickly find internal allies and demonstrate the value of applying data and analytics to specific business questions, Belissent explains.
Educate and evangelize the value of insights.
“To foster more insights-driven approaches to decision making, CDOs launch change management initiatives. They promote top-down leadership, provide bottom-up incentives, and encourage peer-to-peer collaboration, using a variety of methods to engage executives and employees alike. They use storytelling, multifunctional teams, and collaboration metrics to institutionalize the new insights-driven culture,” Belissent says.
Embed data and analytics professionals into the business.
“Most data leaders report having small teams of direct reports but working with a larger data and analytics community across the organization. These embedded teams — within lines of business, regional units, or functional teams — are the spokes of the hub-and-spoke organization that serves as an insights center of excellence (CoE),” Belissent explains.
Establish a community of insights-oriented practitioners — including IT.
Successful CDOs leverage a broader, like-minded community to further drive the insights-driven culture and help scale data and analytics activities, Belissent says.
Build a catalog of data, digital assets and best practices.
The notion of a catalog extends well beyond data and serves as a knowledge repository for the function, Belissent says.
Publish a list of data and analytics services.
A published catalog of services allows potential customers to review what the team had done for others. For example: improvements to operations, patient experiences and health outcomes both in individuals and in the community,” Belissent notes.
Promote services through a results roadshow.
“A sustainable business practice must measure results and ultimately the ROI of its services — and share them to generate future demand. That’s easier said than done. Not all CDOs measure the impact of their services. Incorporate improved data management and governance, often a project byproduct, into the value delivered. When you recognize data management and governance as delivering business value, they become a strategic investment — not merely a cost,” Belissent says.