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Data Voices Unite: Why One Enterprise Data Strategy Is The Answer

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Maria Villar, Head of Enterprise Data Strategy and Transformation at SAP

Maria Villar, Head of Enterprise Data Strategy and Transformation at SAP

Before the first CDO position over 25 years ago, the CIO represented the data mission and the data investments for the enterprise. Then, primarily due to government regulations, the CDO position was created. First in financial institutions to ensure SOX compliance, and later to ensure compliance to other regulatory requirements after the 2008 financial crisis.

Today, the CDO position is becoming more mainstream and global. Growth is fueled by the digitalization of business processes, AI/ML and growing need for business insights that all require good, trusted data. The role of the CDO is changing from a purely defensive role to one of value creation. The CDO is ultimately charged with building the technical, business, people and culture capabilities that will treat data as a corporate asset.

Along with the growth of the CDO position, the number of executives who have a data voice has also increased significantly. In addition to the chief data officer and chief information officer, we have the chief analytic officer, chief digital officer, chief security officer, chief privacy officer, chief technology officer...

Each data voice has a bias in their data scope, but oftentimes it’s the same data, communicating with the same business stakeholders with different investments, requirements, valuations, training and tools. Furthermore, despite all these new data champions, most companies are still behind in getting the business buy-in, sponsorship and needed funding.

A recent NewVantage Partners’ survey of CXX executives confirmed this.

• 38% report they have created a data-driven organization1

• 26.8% report success a tbuilding a data culture1

• 50% report their company is treating data as a businessasset1

When asked what is getting in the way:

• 90.9% of respondents identify people, process and culture as the critical obstacle1

• 40.3% citied organizational alignment2

• Only 9.1% cited technology1

The survey results are not surprising since all these data voices are causing business confusion and fatigue. Consequently, we all struggle to gain the full attention, funding and traction with senior executives.

HOW CAN WE EXPECT SENIOR EXECUTIVES TO TREAT DATA AS AN ENTERPRISE ASSET, WHEN WE, OURSELVES, STILL OPERATE IN SILOED DATA WORLDS, WITH A COLLECTION OF SILOED DATA PROJECTS? TWO EXAMPLES DEMONSTRATE THIS POINT:

Example 1: The various data valuation methods that we now collect:

1. A chief privacy officer classifies PII data and the processes where handled 

2. A security officer classifies data/documents as confidential, public, internal

3. A chief data officer classifies master data, critical data elements and data quality scores

4. A chief digital officer classifies data by its “monetization” value

5. A chief technology officer/CIO classifies data by the systems and databases where they reside

To treat data as an enterprise asset, all classifications for the same data should be viewed and managed collectively, in one catalog. Business leaders can then make strategic, informed decisions based on the enterprise risk and value of the data.

Example 2: The mandatory employee training of their data responsibilities. Separate training exists for PII data handling, security classification handling, business and data ethics principles, data creation, updating and archiving procedures. Wouldn’t the employee appreciate the value and risks of the asset if the training was combined? This, in turn, creates the data-minded culture we are striving to achieve.

How do we start to treat data as one enterprise asset, yet continue to execute with speed and agility?

CREATE ONE ENTERPRISE DATA STRATEGY THAT FOCUSES ON ENABLING STRATEGIC BUSINESS OUTCOMES AND ADDRESSES ALL DATA AND ALL CAPABILITIES FOR SUCCESS.

1. One integrated data architecture with shared data services

2. Deployed in individual projects, creating reusable assets that can be shared across other data initiatives

3. Steered in partnership across all the data voices

One of the biggest hurdles to creating one enterprise data strategy lies with the reluctance of the individual data leaders to partner together. Each believes a separate approach will better achieve their own data program goals. Yet, as the survey indicates, each of these individual programs are struggling to get the full attention needed.

Where a chief data officer exists, the CDO should take the lead to establish a business outcome data strategy and make the case for partnership, using as example the various duplications that exist today. If a CDO does not exist, then a key senior CXX executive appoints one data strategy champion to establish the strategy and governance framework across all the data voices.

With one strategy we can address all the data and all capabilities tied to success. By communicating the linkages of data investments to the key strategic business outcomes, we ensure the funding, resources and attention we need to be successful. With one data strategy, we can communicate with one voice the data topic value to senior business executives. With clear, singular value demonstrated, the confusion and fatigue are addressed, the data literacy grows and so does the data-minded culture.

The time has come. Data Voices UNITE.

REFERENCES

1. NewVantage Partners’ 2020 Big Data and AI Executive Survey, published Feb. 2020
2. NewVantage Partners’ 2019 Big Data and AI Executive Survey, published Feb. 2019

Maria C. Villar is an enterprise data management and governance innovator with over 25 years of experience as a chief data officer, responsible for building enterprise data management organizations from the ground up and leading the culture change across the enterprise. She has held the position in both the technology and financial sectors, most recently at SAP where she was the CDO from 2009-2017.

Today, Villar is head of Enterprise Data Strategy & Transformation, where she advises SAP customers on the crucial role of data management in their digital transformation, leveraging her practical, operational experience as CDO.

In 2017, Villar was honored with the Transformation of Collaboration from Inwards to Outwards Award from the international Society of CDO (iSCDO). This award recognizes outstanding CDO leadership in driving business outcomes and business collaboration.

In addition to her operational experience, Villar:

• Co-authored a book with Theresa Kushner, “Managing Your Business Data from Chaos to Confidence”

• Developed two online classes: https://ecm.elearningcurve.com/Maria_C_Villar_s/76.htm

• Has written numerous articles, including “Time to Level Up: The Evolving Role of the Chief Data Officer” and “The Unintended Consequences of New Technologies”

• Most recently published a data strategy master class available on YouTube