After 17 years since the first MIT CDOIQ Symposium, a painfully learned lesson is that "Data Governance is a difficult area in which to show value'', as highlighted by Tom Davenport at the beginning of his talk. And without visible value, the tenure of a CDO will not hit the third year. And reality seems to support this fact, with the role of the CDO averaging 2.5 years in Randy Bean's annual survey.
Once companies realize the intrinsic value of their data, the backlog grows at an overwhelming rate, making it hard for data teams to keep the pace. Having prioritization processes in place becomes paramount not to die of success and handle stakeholders' expectations, as Michael Cappetta and his team at Northwest Bank have done early on in their journey. Vijay Akella (US Bank) took it to the next level, stating that "prioritization is the most value creating activity". He also summarized why, in his opinion, large data programs usually fail:
Lack of clear objectives.
Resistance to change.
Inefficient management support (probably because of the first point, making the second one hard to overcome).
Ajay Anand and Matt Barnett shared how they are integrating Functional and Capability leaders to deliver enterprise outcomes, with data as the foundation for enabling Johnson & Johnson's growth agenda. Establishing metrics across people, processes and technology and aligning them to the desired outcomes of the transformation is proving an effective way for keeping the company focused both on driving value and on building competitive advantages. Change-management specialists find out how to deal with the unavoidable resistance that a transformation like this one arises and ensure success cases are communicated effectively. A great point made by Donna Burbank (Global Data Strategy) related to the communication strategy is understanding what is important for our stakeholders and adapt the storytelling depending on whether they are driven by emotions or by facts.
Instilling a data-driven culture across the organization is yet an out-of-reach aspiration, being most organizations "unfit for data", in Tom Redman's words. The human side of the transformation is keeping us back, requiring changes far beyond the scope of data teams. If all of the above were not hard enough, Gokula Mishra (Direct Supply) said that we will also “need to train the business on how to optimize the outcomes of their decisions, so they can better leverage the insights and convert them into actions”.
Fernando Castelloes (Petrobras), Paula Runciman and Juan Manuel Botti (Farmacias Peruanas) gave voice to Latin America, showcasing the advances that are taking place in the region and emphasizing the need to drive actual value for the business through while deploying capabilities (AI, martech…) across the company to make it more competitive in the future. One of the aspects that was applauded by the audience was the efficiency and creativity applied at this companies to advance in their Data and Analytics journey with tight budgets.
Chat-GPT and LMMs were floating on the air during the whole event, but more as a topic to spark discussions and betting about its evolution than as a core theme of the conferences. At the CDO Forum hosted by Mckinsey, Kayvaun Rowshankish and his co-panelists agreed that managing inflated expectations while experimenting with low-risk use cases seems to be the way to go for the moment.