Empowering Decision Making with Data-Driven Insights

Town Hall Insights
Denver CIO & CISO Community

Taylor Brown

Co-founder & Chief Operating Officer



Sue Lapierre

Vice President, IT Governance, Information Security Officer



Neil Morris


Ball Corporation


Ashley Bolton

Chief Data and Information Security Officer

City and County of Denver, CO


Brian Gabbard

Senior Vice President, Global Shared Services

Ball Corporation


Every organization has access to data. But how a company chooses to govern, control and use its data will ultimately dictate how well an enterprise can ensure improved business and customer outcomes. As the landscape continues to change, organizations who want to future proof their business will think beyond the dashboard to use data for decision making. This requires them to think ahead and empower key stakeholders and modernize their data architecture to enable better data-driven insights. 

CIOs and CISOs in the Denver Community came together recently to discuss laying the foundation for advanced analytics, balancing data control with data democratization and enabling the business to make more data informed decisions. Taylor Brown, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Fivetran, moderated the session. Evanta Denver Community executives Sue Lapierre, Vice President, IT Governance, Information Security Officer at Prologis; Neil Morris, CIO at the Ball Corporation; Ashley Bolton, Chief Data and Information Security Officer of the City and County of Denver; and Brian Gabbard, Senior Vice President, Global Shared Services at the Ball Corporation led the discussion groups. 

Brown kicked off the discussion by reviewing the pros and cons of on-premise architecture versus cloud environments. There has been an explosion of new data sources and applications, like cloud data platforms, that organizations can leverage to create efficiencies around collecting data. 

Brown explained that organizations go through four steps in the data maturity curve: inactive, reactive, proactive and innovative. To advance toward the innovative stage, organizations must understand the data and organize it into a more centralized, modern infrastructure to properly leverage its uses. 

The first stage typically presents as a gut decision, Brown said, where companies make data decisions based on experience and best guesses. Data centralization is what progresses organizations toward the reactive step. During this stage, the organization can pull data to understand the story in order to begin leveraging the existing data. This stage is focused on understanding descriptive analytics. The next step involves moving the data into a modern and centralized infrastructure for diagnostics and predictive analytics usage. During this step, there is more standardized reporting across the organization and at least some level of data governance. 

The ultimate goal is to leverage data for predictive analytics and operational uses, such as machine learning and AI. When data starts to align with the way the business is run, companies will find more ways to be efficient, generate revenue and advance the business forward. 

CIOs and CISOs then joined small breakout groups to discuss their data modernization journeys and share strategies on improving their growth in that area. 

Key Takeaways from the Discussion

  1. Know where the data exists to help key stakeholders control it.

Organizations are at varying levels of maturity when it comes to data and analytics programs. Several executives still have on-premise infrastructure, while others are leveraging a data warehouse. One issue with on-premise is scalability. 

One executive said that regardless of the stage an organization is at on their data journey, it’s important to inventory the data and make a plan before a company can begin to control and secure that data. Organizations also need to determine who owns the data and where the data exists before determining its value.

  1. Implement a strong data governance program.

Data governance is critical to ensure data quality and security. One CIO noted that if you improve data access through data democratization, a solid data governance framework needs to be implemented in conjunction. This ensures the data is consistent, trustworthy and is being used properly. Executives also added that many organizations appeared to be relatively immature in that process, but desired to mature quickly.

  1. Understand the data to make informed business decisions.

Laying the digital foundation is critical for a business to make data-driven decisions. With many executives still in the process of building their foundations, another executive said that the challenge then comes with trusting the data. There still is an element of human decision making, even with predictive and advanced analytics, so a positive step forward will be promoting trust in the analytics. IT leaders can do this by working closely with the business and communicating the value in terms they can understand.

For more conversations with your technology and security peers on data governance and other top priorities for CIOs and CISOs, find your local Evanta Community, or see when your local CIO and CISO community is gathering next here.