By now it has become clear that all businesses should embrace data to make their organisation as efficient and profitable as possible. Old and tiresome puns like ‘data is the new oil’ may have been used to death but they have in no way whatsoever lost their meaning. This is because data is indeed one of the most important commodities to any business.
And unlike oil, it is one that can be monetised by every single organisation, from the smallest start-up to the largest multi-national. This means that data must be efficiently managed by the data and analytics team. Cue the Chief Data Officer (CDO) – how hands-on should they be?
A recent Gartner report  found that almost three quarters (72%) of data and analytics leaders worldwide are either leading from the front or are heavily involved in their organisation’s digital transformation initiatives. It also found that data quality (51%), ROI from data and analytics investments (44%) and data sharing (43%) are leaders’ top objectives.
The report notes that by 2023, organisations that promote data sharing will outperform their peers on most business value metrics. It also stated that CDOs who have business-facing KPIs, and multiple business partners are almost twice as likely to be effective at consistently producing clear business value by successfully demonstrating ROI from the data and analytics investments. They are also more than twice as likely to be effective at reducing time to market and almost four times as likely to be effective at data monetisation.
A hands-on approach to data literacy
The findings also revealed that almost all CDOs (93%) reported that effective communication is critical to the success of their roles. This indicates that there is a growing trend for a more hands-on approach to data and analytics when it comes to the role of the CDO.
Data literacy is a fundamental to ensuring that everyone in the organisation is able to interpret and utilise the data in the correct context. As a result, data literacy should be treated as a journey and not a destination. And this requires top down support – getting the C-suite and executive level management to continuously utilise the data until it becomes second nature to do so.
This will have a natural trickle-down effect on the rest of the organisation, until data becomes a core function of almost every position. No matter the data and analytics regime, it will never reach its full potential and may very well be doomed to failure if the data is not freely accessible across the board. This is where the CDO should play a leading role in encouraging their entire data and analytics team to help colleagues to access, interpret and utilise data more frequently and more effectively.
Industry case in point
Take temporary car insurance for example. It is a needs-based product that involves rapid, in-the-moment transactions. Demand for the product has increased sharply as motorists questioned the cost-effectiveness of fixed-price annual policies at a time where vehicle usage was significantly down.
It therefore became more important than ever to remain front-of-mind and to be in the right place at the right time when a customer requires cover at short notice. Here, a hands-on data and analytics programme is an effective route to building a 360-degree customer profile, as it helps a business to build an intimate knowledge of its customers’ needs and expectations right in the moment, with the agility and flexibility to rapidly adapt to change as and when required.
High-quality data available across the board enables the policy provider to recognise different need states of one-off usage vs. high repeat multiple usage. For example, a student taking out a one-day policy to borrow their parent’s car, vs. a trade professional who experiences seasonal peaks and troughs in demand for business and is regularly required to add and remove named temporary drivers on the company van policy.
A hands-on CDO must look to the future
Judging from the Gartner report and the latest trends in data and analytics, it is clear that influence, engagement and communication are among the most important competencies for a CDO and indeed any other data and analytics leaders in business. CDOs that fail to promote data literacy through proactive collaboration will find themselves falling short in years to come.