• Nick Whitfeld, Partner |
4 min read

With businesses demanding more data and insights than ever to aid decision making, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Data Officers (CDOs) have the important role of laying the foundations for success.

Key to this is building the right data and analytics capabilities across the organisation with digital transformation, enabling each function to make the best use of data in support of the overall business strategy.

I led a panel discussion at our recent Our Digital Future event to explore how CIO’s and CDOs can bring this to life.

Our panelists were:

  • Osman Peermamode – Director of Data & Analytics, Vodafone Group
  • James Morgan – Senior Director for Data Management & Information Strategy, Asda
  • Lynne Bailey – Chief Data Officer, KPMG in the UK
  • David Thorne – Chief Information Officer, KPMG in the UK

Everyone generously shared their experiences – both positive and challenging. Here are some things that stood out for me. 

Cooperating between the CDO and CIO

In some organisations there can be overlap between the roles of CIO and CDO if they are not clearly defined, which could cause tensions or result in things getting missed. Lynne and David explained how to avoid this, they have very different areas of responsibility day-to-day, but are aligned on the big picture goal of enabling data for the organisation. As Lynne put it: “we work together as a bit of a hit squad.”

At Vodafone, Osman has a similar situation with the CIO. “We co-created the strategy together,” he said. The pair then worked as a team to sell that vision across the company and implement it. 

A framework for data and analytics

The CIO and CDO need to build the right data framework, and ensure the right technology is in place and ensure data can flow across the business for the best insights. Osman shared how he did this at Vodafone, with what I consider to be a very sophisticated and ambitious approach:

  • The team began by aligning the data strategy with the broader business strategy so it could enable the insights required
  • Next, they focused on implementing a central technology platform, and a data sourcing framework
  • Finally, they focused on moving data from the source system to the data analysis tools – in near real-time for optimal insights.

James added that the CIO and CDO need to see where risk, privacy and IT link in, so that data compliance and security is robust.

Driving a data culture

No data strategy can succeed without the support of people, so a focus on building a ‘culture of data’ is another important role. James said that at Asda, his approach is to look at data through the different layers of the organisation and understand the benefits it can deliver to each. He helps each team see how relevant and useful data analysis can be to them. “Everything that we're doing is related to something tangible that you can make a decision on,” he said.

Enabling self-service around data and analytics is another great way to build data into ‘business as usual’. Osman said he has been focused on promoting the “democratisation of data” and a self-service culture by ensuring that different business functions have rapid access to curated, governed data.

Data quality counts

An organisation can have the best intentions to use data and analytics well, but if the quality of the source data is poor, the effort will never bring the desired results. This is a common problem, as when we asked our audience what their biggest challenge was in becoming a data-driven organisation, over half said data quality. 

The poll results were:

James suggested that a helpful way to improve data quality is to encourage behaviour change with examples. “... you have to pull out the real examples and show how that data quality is really impacting a business process.”

Lynne gave the important point that having agreed terminology for what data represents across the business – for example, what sits behind a ‘revenue’ or ‘profitability’ number – can encourage people to input better information.

In summary

As much as the role of the CIO and CDO is about facilitating the right technology and data and analytics capabilities for an organisation, our discussion also showed that there is a lot to do around culture. Here’s a summary of the takeaways that stuck with me:

  • The CIO and CDO need different responsibilities, but the same overarching vision
  • An organisation’s data and analytics strategy needs to align with the business strategy
  • The CIO and CDO need to help each function build data and analytics capabilities to support that strategy
  • Building a ‘culture of data’ matters for success
  • Data quality makes all the difference, and the CIO and CDO can help by showing functions what good data can do.