As Data Insight Grows, So Does Responsibility for Data

Published: October 28, 2015 by Tom Schutz


The appetite and need for data within businesses is continuing to grow at a rapid pace. Organizations are viewing data as a strategic asset and using analytical insights for everything from key business decisions, to the customer experience and more.

However, the methods for managing first-party data and ensuring it’s accuracy have not kept pace with the growing data demand. The majority of businesses today are still relying on siloed, departmental strategies for data management that have little data governance or consistency in terms of people, processes, and technology.

This very clear gap between data usage and data trust has been realized. Organizations are starting to put better structures in place and assign owners to data. In some businesses, especially in highly regulated industries, a chief data officer (CDO) position has been created. The CDO is viewed as a trusted advisory and a custodian of data. That individual is responsible for evangelizing data usage within the business and ensuring that individuals buy-in to information management practices.

But a C-level focus on data has only occurred in a select number of organizations. For the thousands of other organizations who have data and need to improve data trust, who do they turn to today?

In many instances, we are finding that the CIO is taking ownership of data management in a bigger way. In fact, according to a recent Experian Data Quality study of 250 CIOs from large organizations, 52 percent stated they have become increasingly responsible for data management in the last 12 months.

The main responsibilities for the CIO around data management are:

  • Improving the bottom line through lowering the cost of compliance
  • Providing platforms and technologies to support analytics
  • Measuring and managing data value and risk

These executives are adding data management to an already busy work-load. Most CIOs report working longer hours and increased personal stress levels in the last year. However, they are seeing increases in their budgets, allowing them to hire additional help and invest in new technology.

While the CIO is perfectly capable of handling the weight of data management with the right team around them in place, there are a few pitfalls that have occurred in the past that need to be avoided when modernizing any data management strategy.

  1. Data management isn’t just about technology

There needs to be a large investment in people and processes to make sure there is organizational buy-in around data quality. Whenever there are policy changes that employees do not like, they will inevitably find a work around. With data management it is no different. Data owners need to evangelize data and make people want to maintain and use quality information.

  1. Data should not just be controlled and manipulated by IT

While a central data stakeholder should provide consistent data governance and management across the organization, they should also an empowerment of departments and individual users. A large problem with data today is it is difficult to access. Sometimes departments will have to make requests with IT in order to have reports generated for analytics and wait weeks while their request becomes out of date. Today, data owners need to think about business users. How can they make data governed, accurate and accessible while allowing individual departments to manipulate data themselves for specific purposes?

  1. Don’t think about big data, think about insight

We all have talked a lot about big data over the last few years. But, at the end of the day it is just data. It doesn’t matter how much data we have, we ultimately need to be able to access and manipulate that data for analytical purposes. When you are looking at technology, don’t just think about Hadoop clusters and data lakes; think about what you need to build models and access analytics in real-time.

One of the biggest gaps right now for organizations is central ownership of data. A few organizations are looking to answer need by creating a CDO role. However, before this role becomes main stream, much of the work will fall to an already overloaded CIO. They need to maximize their time around data management and ensure that information is fit-for-purpose. Consider the pitfalls above and be sure to hire a great team of data professionals.

To learn more about how data is affecting CIOs, download our research report, The role of the CIO in data management.

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