How CDOs are supporting the business transformation agenda
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How CDOs are supporting the business transformation agenda

February 2019

A new survey of chief data officers shows fast-changing priorities, growing budgets and the pivotal role of master data management in transformational strategies, highlights Niels Stenfeldt, CEO of Stibo Systems.

The role of the chief data officer (CDO) has become intrinsically linked with long-term business success.

It’s a complex job, but an essential one. CDOs are the holders of the key when it comes to unlocking insight from data — insight that enables forward thinking businesses to plot a smoother course to improved outcomes.

Niels Stenfeldt, CEO of Stibo Systems” style=
Niels Stenfeldt, CEO of Stibo Systems

Information management software company Stibo Systems recently interviewed 88 CDOs at a CDO Exchange event to better understand the evolving challenges and responsibilities they face, the rise of data as a strategic asset and how CDOs can use master data management (MDM) to their organization’s advantage. Almost all (89%) had active data projects planned for the next six to 24 months, with just over 40% able to point to budgets of between $1 million and $5 million. That growth in investment in long-term projects demonstrates that data is increasingly empowering business leaders with insight that helps their organizations achieve their high-level objectives.
Data as an asset

Perceptions have certainly changed in the past few years. In a survey report from 2016 by Econsultancy and Adobe, less than one-fifth (19%) of CDOs stated they had access to technology and processes designed to predict the needs and behaviours of their company’s existing and prospective customers. But that gap is closing, with evidence that companies are increasingly turning to CDOs to unlock the power of their data to obtain a better understanding of their customers. Almost half (46%) of the CDOs surveyed by Stibo cited value creation/revenue generation as their number one priority.

Using data as an asset to understand prospects, offer personalized experiences and supply greater value to them is increasing the chances of converting them into customers and ultimately turning customers into brand loyalists.
MDM takes center stage

The data agenda has changed. While in previous years, focus areas for data investment centered on business intelligence, real-time analytics, AI and data visualization, the Stibo study shows three new top areas of focus: Data quality (93%); Data governance (89%); and Data management (86%).

In addition, 80% of the surveyed CDOs declared a specific interest in master data management technologies as helping to address each of these challenges.
This trend is unsurprising given the increased volume of data, the complexity of technology and the assortment of systems and platforms used to run businesses today. Master data management addresses these issues with a centralized system of accurate data that makes it easier for teams and departments to access.

Indeed, data management was cited as the top challenge for 22% of CDOs questioned. One customer’s feedback indicated that managing data with any level of consistency or predictability was causing problems such as lack of data quality, difficulty in changing and amending data and poorly managed growth in business systems. These challenges were slowing everyone down, said the CDOs.
Success factors for CDOs

While CDOs are responsible for making data manageable as a corporate asset, the challenge lies in getting reliable data to serve a strategy or business purpose. This explains the high level of interest in MDM which can help meet this challenge by creating a foundation for building new business models and processes that use the insight that data brings. At the same time, obtaining a greater level of control over data can reduce departmental data silos, accelerate time-to-market and support omnichannel strategies.

To meet these challenges, CDOs must look to the value of master data to help achieve business objectives and drive transformation by using data as a strategic asset. The most successful CDOs will use master data in a way that transcends the traditional roles and responsibilities of IT, using it to improve business outcomes.

First published February 2019
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