SVP & GM, Americas
Dodge & Cox
SVP Data, Analytics & AI
Vinay Reddy Ravoola
SVP, Data & Analytics
Organizations accumulate immense amounts of data every day, and data leaders are struggling to balance identifying new opportunities with the challenges that arise from the influx. To address these issues, Chief Data Officers in Evanta’s San Francisco community recently convened for a Town Hall discussion to exchange strategies on how to transform data volume into data value.
Todd Pelletier, SVP & GM, Americas at Talend moderated the program, and San Francisco Governing Body members Anand Sahasram, CDO at Dodge & Cox; Aaron Crews, SVP Data, Analytics and AI at UnitedLex; and Vinay Reddy Ravoola, SVP, Data and Analytics at Elavon led break out conversations with CDO peers on this topic.
Senior data leaders shared how they are identifying opportunities where data can propel key business objectives, creating an operating model that connects teams across the business, democratizing data and delivering fresh and trusted data for accurate decision-making.
“Data is a double edged sword.”
Pelletier kicked off the program by stating, “Data is a double edged sword.” Despite its value, data environments are becoming ever more complex, making it harder to manage data and use it effectively. With hundreds of data sources, increased demand for data-driven insights, stringent privacy regulations and high turnover for data professionals, CDOs’ abilities to deploy data strategies are in a constant state of disruption, and they need to remove barriers to data health to support business objectives.
CDOs agreed with this sentiment, and one data leader added how core business problems must guide the Data Center to improve data value. He stated, “Data volume presents as a problem and also a great opportunity. Focus on the top business questions and prioritize closely. They [business functions] are using data for product modernization, customer engagement use cases, compliance, and more. We have a responsibility to them.”
Key Takeaways from the Discussion
- Data quality drives business transformation. Many CDOs shared detailed examples about how they are using data for transformational value at their organizations. One data leader is conducting machine-driven human translations, and data quality directly affects the speed and accuracy of each translation. Another shared how they use data to automate pricing adjustments and monetization efforts of their product line.
CDOs expressed a need to improve data quality to drive trust in their digital transformation efforts, and do it at scale. They noted how data quality should be a distributed responsibility with central management, and one data leader indicated, “Data quality should be by design. Embed it at every part of the data lifecycle.” When it comes to measurement, another CDO offered advice, "Work backwards to measure data quality. How useful is the data? Really think about what you are trying to achieve.”
- CDOs are using data catalogs to advance data literacy. Some data leaders are allowing users to “shop” for data. One advised peers to have a central data catalog and distribute ownership by function. He stated, “If you are a pipeline owner on the sales side, you have the responsibility to govern it and publish it to the organization.” Another acknowledged that appropriate data access rights should always be taken into consideration when developing a data catalog.
- CDOs report challenges in creating multi-level data governance frameworks. Many data leaders emphasized how data governance is key to ensuring data quality, yet can be difficult to enforce. One CDO described challenges regarding individuals using data from outside their central provisioning point and also not disclosing that information to data users. He stated, “If you have a central provisioning point and an individual uses data outside of this, it’s incumbent on them to let people know where they found data and that it may or may not be reliable. So the folks who are consuming data have the understanding that the quality may not be there, since it’s from outside the governing zones.”
Continue the Conversation
Evanta’s San Francisco CDO Community will be continuing this conversation in person at the San Francisco CDO Executive Summit on December 8.
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