Uncategorized

Data Literacy and the CDO

I attended a CIO Event in New York today and there was a great session focused on Data Literacy, presented by Jordan Morrow from QlikView.

Simply put, Data Literacy (in a business context) is a person’s ability to read, understand, analyze and communicate data as actionable information, including using data to support an argument or a proposal.  Jordan conveyed that only ~20-33% of those surveyed (including senior executives) considered themselves Data Literate. At the same time, 80% of senior executives see leveraging data as an asset will be critical for continued success and growth.  

Responsibility for increasing the data literacy falls to the CDO, and should be a high priority, as it is a prerequisite for an organization achieving maturity in the data leverage space, and is a springboard for data innovation.

The benefits are clear.  If an organization achieves a higher level of data literacy, they will:

  • Be able to define a vision that more closely aligns with overall mission
  • Develop a strategy that aligns with culture and is more implementable and focused on achievable objectives
  • Distribute the execution across the organization with more stakeholder buy-in
  • Include data as a basis for decision-making
  • Improve professional skepticism around quality of data

If people are sensitive to the nature of data, they can be expected to incorporate risk-awareness when deciding how to handle data – for example, knowing they are handling PII may cause them to exercise better judgement around it’s treatment, or ask an SME for guidance.

It’s a tall order, especially given the acknowledged low current state of literacy, but can still be approached in a pragmatic way.  There are a number of methodologies out there for increasing Data Literacy that can be adapter to an organization.  Here are some thoughts on approach:

  • The CDO should chair a leadership-level steering committee with representation from all business areas, which sanctions the CDO’s agenda and champions the program;
  • Data Literacy should be on the agenda as a core element and critical-success-factor;
  • Steering committee members should become data literate;
  • Careful thought should go into how the literacy program in rolled out:
    • Culture is hard to change (and requires ongoing messaging and overt steering committee/senior leadership support)
    • Training triggers eye-rolling, especially if it’s not closely tied to a person’s day to day responsibilities
    • Raising literacy is iterative, and should be tied to roll-out of capabilities or products, so awareness and training is relevant and just-in-time.
    • Wins should be celebrated.
  • Since richer datasets might incorporate regulated data, Data Literacy training/awareness should cover appropriate data handling, based the nature of the data.  This has the added bonus in that if it’s delivered just-in-time, it will be more relevant to the use-case being introduced.

I came away from the CIO Event reminded that even though CDO responsibilities are growing on the market-facing side (e.g., data monetization), they should also be responsible for ensuring everyone in the organization is realizing the benefits of the “data economy”.

Contact me at james@jhoward.us

 

Information Management and Governance, Uncategorized

The Case for a Broad Scope CDO

Information exists is all forms, spread across organizations, and available throughout the marketplace. Forward-looking organizations are identifying and categorizing information assets with a view to leveraging it – perhaps by enhancing existing products and services, by creating net-new revenue opportunities, optimizing business or financial operations, or to more effectively manage risk.

Treating Information Like an Asset

Like with any asset, and as a responsible business person, the Chief Data Officer (CDO) establishes the vision and goals for information use, and implements strategies to achieve that vision – whether they are monetization, product/service-enhancement or business optimization.  As a responsible steward, the CDO governs the information through its lifecycle, and manages risk in a way proportional to the threats, and in consideration of the value of the asset and stakeholder expectations.  

Handling techniques are aligned with the nature of the information and take into account the way the business wants to use information; 

Depending on how the information is stored, transmitted and processed, threats and vulnerabilities may run the gamut of cyber – from traditional hacking all the way to sophisticated industrial espionage schemes – as well as non-technology based threats, such as physical loss, destruction or theft. 

Depending on the nature of the information, it may be subject to a variety of obligations – contractual, GDPR, PCI, HIPAA/HITECH, GLBA, client expectations, etc., many of which include principles-based and/or prescriptive handling requirements, with a wide range of legal, financial, and/or brand damage consequences in the event information is mishandled, lost or breached.  

Stepping Back

So taking a step back, we’re describing a business environment where

  1. The market is demanding a greater degree of data use,
  2. Data science is providing ever expanding opportunities, and
  3. The range of vulnerabilities/threats/obligations are more complex than ever.  

Everyone seems to be focusing on information, and the opportunities and stakes are huge.  Responsible organizations wanting to lead their industries will exploit information assets, meet compliance obligations and manage risks proportionally – and as a result, derive value. 

Role of CDO

It is difficult to see how to manage information in a balanced way in a traditional organizational structure where the revenue/leverage focus of information is separate from the protection focus, which is further separate from compliance focus.  It would seem unrealistic to expect to be fast-moving, nimble, risk-aware and compliant, if data leverage, protection and compliance are all managed in parallel organizations, often with different success criteria and subject to different measurements.  

Organizationally, this suggests building the Office of the CDO by pulling together:

  1. Data vision and strategy: interfacing with senior and business-line leadership, establishing a vision for data use, and defining the strategy to achieve the vision;
  2. Data Governance and Management: designing, building and operating processes and controls for handling information throughout its lifecycle;
  3. Obligations compliance: monitoring and respecting the rules and expectations; and
  4. Information protection: understanding threats and vulnerabilities, and ensuring they are addressed in a proportional way.

Among business trends, information leverage is seen as having the highest potential to deliver maximum value back to organizations.  To derive that ROI, the CDO needs to have the organizational authority to influence and/or drive activity across the enterprise, whether it’s to enable existing product lines’ information ambitions, or to cut through organizational politics and roadblocks.  To achieve that they need to report to the highest levels of the organization, accountable to the management committee and Board. 

Advantages

This model has a host of advantages:

  • It enables senior-level visibility and buy-in for information-related initiatives, 
  • It focuses talent on exploiting and managing a critical corporate asset as a primary objective,
  • It forces the protection efforts to operate in a way that’s proportional to the value of the assets being protected, and the risks to which they’re exposed,
  • It aligns compliance to the way an enterprise wants to use information, and the relevant aspects of the obligations,
  • It raises the profile and creates focused awareness around the information assets,
  • It provides for career opportunity and satisfaction for the participants, because they are more closely exposed to the revenue cycle of their employer, and
  • It aligns investments more closely with objectives and return.

Information is increasingly viewed as the new natural resource. It presents opportunities that can be exploited along with risks that can be managed.  And the pace of change is increasing. Organizations should lay the groundwork now to position themselves for the new Information Age. 

Contact me at james@jhoward.us

 

Information Management and Governance, Uncategorized

Innovation and Data

Data Explosion:

As a benefit of advances in technology, the volume and availability of data is increasing exponentially, including the ability to collect rich data as collateral from operational transactions.

Sensors permit the increased gathering of data, some of which can be procured commercially – performance data from jet engines, weather data around seasonal storms, wrist band data from families visiting amusement parks, patient data from medical devices, etc.

Key Advances – enabling data innovation:

Advances in algorithms enable more sophisticated analysis of data – intelligent automation, cognitive –  creating the ability for automation to become more seamlessly integrated into the user experience. Most – if not all – are hugely dependent on the quality and availability of data.

Advances in cloud platforms enable the analysis of larger volumes of data, more opportunistically with on-demand, cost-effective scaling.

Within organizations, data can be classified into the following:

  1. Marketable data– data-oriented products or services that have market value, whether in raw or refined/aggregated form
  2. Management data– KPI information gathered from business systems, used to inform decision makers
  3. Transactional data– information generated from an organizations business activities, whether banking transactions, audits, sales activities or IoT logs
  4. Operational data– Presentations, R&D activities, thought pieces, brochures, client data processed by employees

Opportunities for Innovations:

The evolving discipline of data science is imagining new, innovative and creative ways to combine data, extract “signals” and drive value – whether its from anticipating possible outcomes (mortgage defaults as a function of weather patterns and number of computers), identifying lost revenue (hospital networks providing costly diagnostic services, but losing higher margin treatment revenue), or identifying interesting correlations (consumer buying patterns following summer storms)

Each of the above classifications of data present opportunities for innovation:

  1. Marketable data is the holy grail: with appropriate governance, harvesting and deriving revenue from data available as collateral from business.  Innovation drives things such as, how can the data be refined or enriched to increase value to licensor?  How must it be anonymized to meet regulatory requirements?  How to achieve fair share of downstream revenue?
  2. Enriching management reporting and optimize processes by introducing additional data e.g. road construction plans influencing product delivery routes or performance of local sports teams affecting snack sales;
  3. Transactions can be mined to optimize performance, contribute to regulatory or management reporting and can be refined with robotics and intelligent automation
  4. Operational data can be cataloged, leveraged – avoiding re-creation – and tracked for compliance with regulations or client expectations, or disposal

Contact me at james@jhoward.us

CDO, Information Management and Governance

CDO: Leveraging AND Protecting Data

A lot is written about the important role the CDO has in promoting, monetizing and leveraging data in an organization. There is no doubt this is their primary function, and failing to fulfill the role can cost the organization in terms of revenue, competitiveness and market position. But the CDO has an equally important role in overseeing governance of data, and failing to embrace that part can lead to similarly negative outcomes.

I’m going to make a provocative statement: the data leverage market is charging ahead and the data governance disciplines are not keeping up. We will continue to see headlines describing data-related issues. Like opposite ends of a rubber band being pulled tighter and tighter, we are facing an increasing risk of a significant, potentially catastrophic, event. The risks aren’t only that data might lost or breached, but also that the organization might fail to gain full benefit from their data. The CDO plays a key role in managing the risk, avoiding issues, which in turn positions the organization to move faster and more nimbly.

Lets talk about the data:

A majority of companies are leveraging Big Data, with Financial Services and Healthcare leading the charge, and nearly 80% of executives believe that failing to embrace Big Data will cause companies to lose their competitive edge. Use cases range from customer and clickstream analysis, to fraud detection and predictive maintenance. The statistics go on and on, all pointing to an accelerating pace of growth and adoption.

  • Tools are becoming more sophisticated, and evolving to where increasingly, end-users can can pursue data tasks without involvement of IT staff. The analytics software and services market is $42B this year, expected to grow to $103B over the next 9 years.
  • And 59% of executives believe that their use of Big Data would be improved through the use of AI – often itself dependent upon the quality of data.
  • How much data? One estimate puts at 44 zettabytes by 2020 (44 TRILLION gigabytes)!

Point being, we are continuing the trajectory of very high growth in the use of data, and no end in sight as far as how much data there is to manipulate and leverage.

OK. So how is it being managed?

Increasingly, where in place, responsibility to establishing the vision and executing the strategy for data use falls to the Chief Data Officer. However, less that 20% of the top 2,500 companies have named CDOs, and they are often focused on the market-facing and revenue aspects of data. But even for those CDO’s whose responsibilities include governance (covering data protection and quality), there are no standard frameworks to employ to manage data.

By framework, I mean the mechanisms to manage data through it’s lifecycle the way one would manage any other asset. Gartner observes that while the traditional business disciplines provide some analogs to manage information as an asset, nothing has emerged tailored to information, let alone adopted as a standard. In fact, accounting standards don’t even include “information” on financial statements.

Within any governance framework should be Protection against reasonably foreseeable threats. There should be a model where protection of data is proportional to data (asset) value, relevant risks and threats, and which takes into account compliance obligations. To be sure, there are many sets of obligations, supporting methodologies with varying levels of adoption and maturity to address data protection along verticals (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA/HITECH, etc), and respectable frameworks to help ensure information security (ISO27001, for example). But these are rarely within the responsibility scope of the CDO. The CDO has to navigate different organizations to engage with one or more CIOs, CISOs and/or CPOs to help implement protections — and those other leaders’ priorities are often on other imperatives, and politics frequently interfere. So it’s difficult to see how an organization can simultaneously position itself to leverage data as a key asset, while also ensuring proper and proportional protection.

Stepping back looking at the bigger picture, I’m describing a market environment where opportunities for leveraging and profiting from data are exploding, while the mechanisms to manage and protect that data are lagging.

What can go wrong?

This pattern points to scenarios where data is breached, questionable data becomes over relied-upon, or where momentum builds to leverage and profit from data, but due to the lack of proportional governance, an event occurs (or worse, issues go undetected until outsiders raise the alarm) resulting in a loss or process failure, leading to financial and/or brand damage and regulatory intervention. A quick review of headlines reminds us this happens on an all too regular basis, leading to the inevitable questions such as, “how could this have happened?” or “you should have seen that coming”.

Is it avoidable? 

Black swan events are – by definition – unanticipated.  However, organizations can take significant steps to anticipate and either avoid or plan for these events, and prepare for potential outcomes by embracing information management and governance techniques. Remember, a data event – whether a breach or a perceived abuse of data – affects not only the organization in question, but also those around it, emanating outwards.

Data leverage and data management can be thought of as opposing forces pulling opposite ends of a rubber band — they will reach a breaking point, and the tension needs to be released in a controlled fashion. The CDO plays a key role, since they should be looking at the “big picture” of “big data”.

  • The CDO needs to be empowered and adopt a posture that balances pursuit of opportunity with proper governance – protection, quality, accuracy.
  • The CDO should be prominent in an organization, to begin addressing the many cultural barriers to information management.
  • The market needs to settle on a framework to manage information as an asset, recognizing it has value and utility to be exploited.

We are living in a world where data is everywhere and the ability to manipulate it for benefit is growing at an incredible pace. Market disruptions are occurring on a daily basis, often enabled by creative use of technologies that analyze data. Forward looking companies wanting to play in this space are looking to CDOs to help, and they need to be properly enabled. Now is the time to engage.