Three Challenges for a Chief Data Officer

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With the growing importance of data in companies, the role of a Chief Data Officer - CDO - is becoming more formalized. CDO’s today are seen as stewards for data ownership and responsibility across the enterprise and you see this role in organizations as diverse as Citygroup, Yahoo! and the City of Chicago. In some organizations, the CIO or CTO offices take on responsibility for data handling, others have elevated the role to one reporting directly to the CEO as the challenges and risks associated with data rise as quickly as the opportunities to benefit from its use.

Taking advantage of data

We see three main steps each CDO has to go through to realize a competitive advantage from the data their organization owns:
    Establish a clear strategy and direction with regard to data. As organizations transform to be more data driven, the CDO has to act as both leader and evangelist to think and act about the value of data and how it can be take advantage of. Organizations need to re-think their processes in light of the availability of data on suppliers and customers, employees and partners.

    Perhaps, with more data on sales or production, the amount of stock can be decreased, lowering costs and enabling capital to be invested in other areas. Perhaps new revenue streams can be found, making data available to the public. Governments might be able to analyze and reduce crime or health issues, universities might be able to optimize facilities for students or enable them to collaborate. Data can and does transform business models and being the first in an industry to realize opportunities pays of.

    Integrate data across silos and make it available. Data, as used by employees, customers or partners is key to success. Organizations need a full overview of their data, making it available where it is needed. Universal access to files and other data available in legacy, local or cloud storage is crucial for productivity and control. Organizations tend to silo off departments, with marketing not having access to local sales data or teachers in one department not knowing similar course material might be available in another. A full 360 degree view for HR might require searching in 10 or more places, complicating review and assessment of performance. Often, finding and integrating data from multiple sources takes far longer than analysis and part of it might not even be found at all.

    Ensure full data security. When data becomes a competitive advantage or needs to be protected for legal reasons, security rises to become a key driver for choices by IT. Costs of data breaches in banking, government, retail and media has been extremely high, showing in highly politicized and publicized breaches like the hack at American human resources firm ADP, leaking payroll, tax and benefits information from over 650,000 companies, the massive data breach Yahoo tried to hide and St. Josephs’ Health clinic which had to pay a 2 million fine for exposing patient data, already the 12th fine imposed for careless handling of data this year in the US.

    Security is an active process, something the CDO has to keep up with and continually re-evaluate. Not all data storage, sync and share technologies take security as their highest priority, as a recent analysis by RhinoSecurityLabs about an ownCloud security issue in its SMB integration that went unfixed showed.

    CDO’s need to take into account that solutions developed in private, without decent security processes and transparency, increase the risk of data leaks. Open Source provides an advantage here, showing the full extend of a firms’ commitment to keeping your data secure.

As data becomes more important to organizations it forms a strategic asset, growing the role of the CDO showing the way towards a more data driven organization. The combination of finding opportunities to benefit from data and protecting it from theft and leaks is what makes the difference between success or failure for a CDO.
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I do think that Nextcloud is a useful tool for a Chief Data Officer.

The monitoring tool, with its graphical UI and the API provided, is really helpful in kkeping trak of what is going on in “your cloud”.

Yet the target for this tool are system administrators.

It could be worthwhile to think to a similar tool which displays information more targeted towards a CDO.