Even in today’s data-driven landscape, many Chief Data Officers (CDOs) remain misunderstood by their businesses. As a result, their place in the org chart is likely to further prevent them from making business impact with data.

Volker Buscher, Advisory Board member at Data Leaders, a former CDO, has recently shared his insights on how CDOs can take charge of their journey, and harness the potential of collaboration between CDO, CEO and CIO. His presentation was also informed by discussions with CDOs from across the world as part of the Data Leaders Deep Dive Series.

Below is the summary of the key take aways from Volker’s presentation. Data Leaders members can access the full slides and further connect with Volker, and other CDOs via the Data Leaders Hub.

Clearly Define Goals 

It is crucial to have a well-defined understanding of the goals and objectives before diving into data and analytics initiatives. Whether it’s focused on data services, enablement, or transformation, aligning with the company’s strategy is essential. 

Engage with Executives 

Ensure that the CEO and other key executives are actively engaged and understand their roles in the data and analytics process. Lack of CEO engagement and clarity can lead to misalignment and friction within the organization. 

Foster Collaboration 

Establish strong relationships and collaboration with key stakeholders such as the CIO, CFO, and other business leaders. Recognize that data and analytics initiatives impact multiple areas of the business and require cross-functional cooperation. 

Determine Organisational Design and Roles 

Depending on the goals, different team structures and skill sets are required. For data services, the Chief Data Officer and their team are primarily responsible, while for enablement and transformation, a broader ownership and engagement with the managing director and executive team is necessary. 

Address Cultural Challenges 

Be mindful of cultural challenges that may hinder the adoption of data-driven initiatives. Ensure that the organizational culture is supportive of change and embraces the necessary infrastructure and processes for successful transformation. 

Sustain Velocity 

To sustain momentum and scale data and analytics initiatives, it is crucial to establish strong interpersonal relationships, psychological safety, and a culture of continuous learning. Psychological safety creates an environment where innovation and transformation can thrive. 

Establish Legitimacy 

Gain legitimacy for data and analytics efforts by demonstrating tangible impacts on customer experience, profitability, and overall business valuation. Clearly communicate the value and impact of data-driven decision-making to gain support and buy-in from executives and stakeholders. 

This presentation has originally been shared at the Data Leaders Guild CDO Think Tank 2023. We will shortly publish the Voice of the CDO Report, which will summarise all the key ideas shared by an elite group of group level CDOs at this event. Be the first to receive this exclusive document.

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