At ViON, we have been evangelizing the concept of the “Data Driven Mission” – the idea that big data analytics, cloud and data management / protection should no longer be addressed as separate silos of IT, but as interdependent functions that enable organizations to maximize the effectiveness as their second most valuable asset: data. In case you’re wondering, we believe that people are the most valuable asset to any organization. For any organization to derive value from their data through analytics, it needs to be secure, organized and accessible. To achieve this state, the right tools, technology, people and processes must be in place. While this function has traditionally rested with the CIO, increasingly we are seeing this responsibility fall under the Chief Data (Analytics) Officer (CDO/CDAO).
Recently, Rob Davies, EVP of Operations at ViON participated in an online discussion with Kevin Garrison, Chief of Analytics at the DoD and Dr. Michael Valivullah, CTO National Agricultural Statistics Service at USDA on the role that the CDO/CDAO is playing in the federal government. The common thread amongst this panel of experts was that for organizations to maximize data analytics capabilities, they first needed to have a firm foundation of data governance. Many federal CDO/CDAOs are challenged with siloed data within their organization, integrating data sources from multiple organizations and a protective culture across departments that aren’t always willing to open their files and share information. Without openness of data, analytics will be limited.
Data analytics is disruptive. It requires a shift in processes, expertise, technology and policies. It requires a willingness to take chances and look beyond the traditional scope of “this is how it’s always been done,” said Kevin Garrison. When you layer on the new forms of sensor data being collected from the Internet of Things (IoT), characteristics like data ownership, quality, authority and context (metadata) become increasingly significant. Existing processes and technologies are not sufficiently equipped to manage the 4 V’s of big data: Volume, Variety, Velocity and Veracity.
While these challenges are certainly not unique to the federal government, organizations in the private sector are progressing at a slightly faster pace to implement a strategic CDO/CDAO role. In a recent article, “Chief Data Officers Bust Out of the Shadows onto the Corporate Front Lines” citing a new Gartner Study, Mark Ramsay, CDO of GlaxoSmithKline PLC observed that the role of the CDO has moved to the offense as they move to acting on data versus managing it. Roles are shifting from “caretakers and librarians” to “coaches and evangelists” and as Christina Clark, CDO at General Electric Co. put it: “We’re looking at how to take control of data so it doesn’t take control of us.” GE has adopted the concept of a “digital thread” that makes the data the center of its processes. It’s also moving to get data into the hands of the people who can use it more quickly by replacing its data warehouses with more flexible big data lakes that can handle different kinds of data and make it easily available. “There is an easier way to get data out to the people who need it, and it’s caught on like wildfire,” Clark said.
To bring the conversation full circle, the trend we are seeing among progressive enterprise organizations is predicated on the Data Driven Mission. By adopting processes and technology that make data secure, accessible and actionable, they can advance the role of the CDO/CDAO to a more strategic and offensive posture. Rob, Kevin and Michael are absolutely correct: for the role of the CDO/CDAO to truly take root and perform as intended, the function needs to move from managing data to analyzing data. At ViON we know this dynamic quite well – check out our eBook, “Why Data Management Matters Right Now“. To view the on-demand version of our recent webinar visit: “Calling the Plays: Streamlining Government with a Federal Big Data Playbook“