Delivering benefit – how to transform Chief Data Officers into superstars

Continuing with our three-part opinion series on ‘Maximising the effectiveness of the Chief Data Officer’, Jon Cooke (Specialist in Big Data) takes a look at the options open to CDOs to add value to an increasingly diverse customer base by becoming more user-centric.

The explosion of Big Data has seen the importance and influence of Chief Data Officers (CDOs) continue to increase. We are beginning to see the crucial role CDOs can play in contributing to the overall success of organisations, in terms of meeting the competing demands of clients, regulators and senior managers.

Making high-quality business decisions means having high-quality data available. Data that can be analysed, interpreted and understood – giving financial institutions clear guidance on how key objectives can be met and where improvements can be made. This can only be achieved through skilful data management by CDOs.

However, if CDOs want to truly stand out and have the ‘star quality’ that comes from delivering key benefits to their customer base, theymust adopt a user-centric approach to their work.

What is a user centric approach and why is it so important?

The introduction of regulations such as the trade reporting requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act in the US and European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) highlighted the poor levels of data management practices within the financial services industry.

Areas of concern include firms having difficulties implementing adequate trade reporting solutions and the inability to gauge the health of the trading business from the data available. This contributes to an environment where relevant and up-to-date views and opinions about a business cannot be formed due to the quality of the data available.

Adopting a user-centric approach to data management can prevent this. As the term suggests, it involves making the customer the focus of all data management processes. It requires new ways of collecting, storing, managing and delivering cross-business data.

CDOs are catering for an increasingly diverse ‘customer base’ of those who make use of the firms data, be they; regulators, internal customers, or end-user clients, all of whom are additionally demanding more from their data. A user-centric approach understands that different ‘customers’ require different user experiences. A key attribute for CDOs is to recognise how each customer wishes to view and interact with the data available.

Challenges to implementing a user centric approach
CDOs will naturally face some challenges in implementing a user-centric approach. One of the most difficult will be overcoming the ‘siloed’ culture found in many firms.

This culture limits cross-departmental cooperation. Business decisions are often spread across different areas, with little communication taking place between different areas of the business. This culture can extend to the design and construction of business data models, leading to information processes and infrastructures that do not reflect an enterprise-wide view.

The challenge for CDOs is to seek ways of breaking down this ‘siloed’ culture and aggregating cross-department data; bringing this data to one place rather than having it stored across different departments. The benefit for any institution is that it has a consistent, accurate and complete view of all its data assets across all business lines, as well as across the entire organisation.

Overcoming such challenges will not be easy. The complex and informal structures around the function of the CDO found in many institutions is an added obstacle.

Despite these challenges, the fact remains that businesses need to make effective decisions at all levels to remain competitive, profitable and to satisfy the regulators. They need data that is relevant, tells them what they want to know, and is of the highest quality.

If CDOs want to be seen as the true ‘superstars’ within their organisations, the user-centric approach is the ideal way of achieving this goal.


This blog appeared on Finextra. Click here to see the entry on the Finextra website.

This blog is an extract from the GFT paper “Delivering benefit”. To receive the full article as a pdf, please click here and simply enter your email address in the box at the top of the page.

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