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So Much Data, But Who Is Managing It?

Data Management

Today’s data-driven world creates exciting new opportunities, but also new challenges. Many of us see the promise of being able to make more intelligent decisions by fully understanding our customers and the needs of the marketplace. There are data scientists that can do incredible analysis to give us new insights into areas we didn’t think were possible.

We have more data than ever before and it is only increasing in volume. According to a recent Experian Data Quality study of CIOs, more than half believe the volume of data their organizations need to manage will increase in the next 12-18 months. Data volumes are expected to increase by an average of 33 percent.

All this is changing the way that we operate and how we do business. However, most of us are not fully exploiting the data assets we have available to us today.

A large problem with data management strategies today is that most organizations are not managing the data process centrally. Sixty-eight percent of the CIOs we surveyed think it is difficult to find stakeholders who take anything other than a siloed view of data management. In addition, 70 percent of CIOs believe it is difficult to make decisions because no one in their organization is taking full ownership of the data.

For many organizations, the responsibility of data is falling to individual departments or the CIO. In the last 12 months, more than half of the CIOs we talked to have become increasingly responsible for data management, and an equal amount have felt increased pressure to provide data to the business faster.

While the data management roles certainly need to become more centralized, the challenge is that the CIO is already stretched thin. Data management cannot be just another responsibility added on to their workload if at all possible.

To combat this issue, a solution some companies are starting to explore is the hiring of a chief data officer (CDO). The CDO is becoming more common in highly regulated industries and is serving as the individual in charge of the data and information strategy, governance, control, policy development and effective exploitation.

The CDO role is as much about advocacy as anything else. Part of the problem with many data governance or data strategies today is that they change the status quo for employees. Process changes are forced into place without the employee understanding why this is better for them. Consequently, employees find workarounds to get back to the way they were doing things.

It’s important to note that the CDO is not a data ‘cop.’ They are an evangelist for data in the business, pointing out its benefits and how it provides insight. They are a guardian for data quality, making sure information is trusted. In addition, the CDO is responsible for managing large data management programs involving multiple stakeholders around the business, creating consistency.

This role will only get more common in the years ahead. Gartner predicts that 50 percent of all companies in regulated industries will have a CDO by 2017. I think that is certainly true, and could even accelerate if data continues to evolve at its current pace.

Data needs an owner and someone to take responsibility for its management and usage. A CDO is a great role to consider when evaluating the people needed to maintain an aggressive data strategy.

To learn more about this top, be sure to read our new report The Chief Data Officer: Bridging the gap between data and decision-making.