From Raw Data to Measurable Business Impact

Virtual Town Hall Insights
New York CDO Community

Dan Onions

Head of Data Management Solutions



Pawan Verma

Chief Data Officer

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China


Jing Wang

Principal, Head of Center for Analytics and Insights

Vanguard Group


With data democratization becoming increasingly important to organizations, how can data leaders scale their advanced analytics and empower their users so that internal customers are making data-driven decisions? Data and analytics leaders in the New York CDO community came together to discuss data access and democratization and where they are on the journey to impacting business outcomes with data.

Moderator Dan Onions, head of data management solutions at Quantexa, kicked off the discussion with a question for the community: What is your biggest barrier to delivering measurable business value from data and analytics?

Participants shared that some of their challenges include:  

  • Data quality and accessibility

  • Building a modern data lake

  • A willingness from the workforce to participate in data initiatives


Governing Data Quality and Access 

The CDO community started the conversation with the issue of data democratization, and data leaders agreed that data quality and accessibility are two large components. For one organization, understanding the source of the data has been important, before making it accessible to all. In addition to access, according to one CDO, everyone also needs the same understanding of what the data represents. 

Both panelists mentioned that they started with data structure and centralization, but one pointed out that “a central data warehouse does not in and of itself result in democratization.” Other necessary parts are having the right technology ecosystem, tools and standards in place. The data leaders noted that processes also need to be created around ownership and maintenance of the data.

We have a data lake – and want to make sure it does not become a swamp.” – CDO


The intake process is also critical in order to ensure that teams across the organization are using the same data foundation for analysis. Another CDO noted that their department had worked very hard to make sure that their largest data sources are meeting their high standards and requirements. However, multiple data sources, third-party data and departments operating in data silos mean constant challenges to maintaining “clean” data. 


If You Build It, Will They Come?

Data leaders in the conversation suggested it’s not always true in data and analytics that “if you build it, they will come.” There are ongoing data literacy and change management challenges to getting teams to use the tools and access the data that is provided. As one pointed out, their organization built a data lake and provided access, but “no one wants to go in there.” Another data leader noted that there is “a gap between knowledge and usage.”

Data and analytics leaders are focused on data literacy initiatives and ways to make the tools for internal customers easier to use so that there is some level of self-service available. They agreed that even though data access might be offered, there are still challenges in getting people to try the tools and technology that makes good use of the data.


Manage Data for Defense and Offense

Data leaders agreed that sometimes it was easier to demonstrate the measurable value of data used for defense, rather than offense – that is, for defensive or mandatory activities like compliance. One CDO noted that it’s very compelling to automate costly and time consuming compliance reporting, for instance. Moreover, it’s easy and clear cut for business leaders to see the value of reducing the costs or resources required for such compliance.  

After you start with defense, the CDOs suggested you could move to offense – or, demonstrating the business value of data in more innovative ways. One leader noted that improving the data environment overall helps drive innovation. Those who are farther along in their journey are using data for AI and ML, and delivering use cases in improving the customer experience. 

Several executives agreed that having room to experiment is key. Activities like A/B testing in sales and marketing channels can provide evidence to the rest of the organization on how data teams can help the business innovate. They agreed the more you demonstrate the link between data and analytics and better business decisions, the more you will get the business on board. One CDO advised others to start with business problems when deciding what to tackle – and not to shy away from big business problems.



The business demand for data and analytics is growing exponentially. To keep pace, data and analytics leaders need to create measurement frameworks to track the value of data as it relates to key business decisions. And to demonstrate the best business value, CDOs and their teams have to help their internal customers move beyond pulling data together to accessing business insights. As one data leader said, “Not everyone needs access to raw data – but they need insights.”


by CDOs, for CDOs

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