My Turn, Your Turn – Sharing Data Successfully

Community Blog
Written by Jason Larson

APRIL 13, 2021

Me! Mine! Me want! Me do!

One of the most difficult things for small children to grasp is the concept of sharing. Toddlers, by nature, are egocentric creatures (I use this term with endearment) and lack the ability to inhabit someone else’s point of view. Sharing, after all, is an intricate dance between two or more parties, and small kids lack the social and emotional skills to understand the benefits of sharing – for themselves and others. 

While frustrating for parents, this “No! Mine!” mode is developmentally appropriate and actually helps toddlers focus on things like walking and talking and stacking and throwing. As I play with my toddler at home – he’s 13 months and on the verge of saying his first words – our “my turn, your turn” exercises probably feel as sensible to him as if I chose Ulysses for bedtime reading.

The circular rhythms of life strike me sometimes. Many large, “grown up” enterprises are still in the toddlerhood of data sharing and many of the reasons bear resemblance to the obstacles my little guy will face when the kids get too close during parallel play. The emotional and social – and, yes, financial and political and technological complexity – of sharing data at a large scale within and between large organizations is a developmental hurdle that takes time and skill to overcome. This is especially true for legacy enterprises who are in the throes of digital transformation and grappling with not the concept but execution of a data-first mindset. After all, many organizational environments are designed to not share data – and it takes a business-first D&A strategy and data-driven culture to get over the hump and treat their data as an ecosystem that needs nourishment (i.e. USE).

After all, many organizational environments are designed to not share data.

And the expansion of data sharing starts with the D&A team. The link between D&A teams who promote using data and their organizational performance is pretty hard to ignore. According to Gartner research, effective D&A teams are three and two times more likely, respectively, to generate measurable benefits from exchanging data assets internally and externally. Intuitively, this correlation is not surprising. Good data is good decisions is business is good, right? But the most interesting overlap between sharing data internally and externally is this common roadblock: Fear. In Gartner’s “Fifth Annual CDO Survey,” stakeholder resistance based on fear ranked as the third greatest challenge to sharing data both internally and externally.

As with many aspects of the CDO function, the pandemic served as an accelerant to data sharing, and Evanta has held several virtual sessions on the subject. As one CDO put it: There’s an orchard of fruit on the floor. So how are top data and analytics leaders overcoming stakeholder resistance to sharing data and harvesting this fruit?

  • Their priority investment is in the culture of organization. Many of the risks and regulatory prohibitions around sharing data are perceived and not real. Education and the act of practicing a data-first mindset comes before technological investment. In the words of one CDO: “We are business aligned and tech led.”
  • They are treating first-degree to third-degree data holistically and simplifying data sets. They are asking themselves: Do I understand what we have? Does the business understand what is available? How are we combining external with internal data to get an edge? 
  • Their negotiations in data sharing begin with defining a common goal. They’ve learned that without building in incentives, it’s nearly impossible to share data successfully.

As the demand for data increases and data ecosystems become exceedingly complex, it is critical for data leaders to keep at the forefront of their mind the non-technological nuances of data sharing and data governance. If the focus begins and remains here, the benefits to the business are within grasp.



Jason Larson headshot

Jason Larson

Director, Content at Evanta, a Gartner Company

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