(US & Canada) VIDEO | A CDO’s Job Revolves More Around People Than Data — US Government Accountability Office CDO

Dr. Diane. E. Schmidt, Chief Data Officer at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) speaks about the vital aspects and challenges of a CDO role, articulating messages around the importance of data, and leveraging different mediums to deliver them.

Dr. Diane. E. Schmidt, Managing Director and Chief Data Officer at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) speaks with Nazar Labunets, Product Marketing Manager at Ataccama, in a video interview about the vital aspects to consider for the role of a CDO, challenges of the role, articulating messages around the importance of data, and leveraging different mediums to deliver them.

GAO, often called the "Congressional Watchdog,” is an independent and non-partisan agency that works for the Congress. The office examines how taxpayer dollars are spent and provides Congress and federal agencies with objective and fact-based information to help the government save money and work efficiently.

Ataccama is a global software company delivering a unified platform for automated data quality, MDM, and metadata management.

Schmidt begins by stating that jumping into a CDO role without any funding resources and plan will create a delay in the delivery of outcomes. She advises CDOs to understand the mission, objectives, and requirements of the role and assess the organizational landscape.

Further, Schmidt stresses that sometimes CDOs may end up doing a different job than what they were hired for. Therefore, it is critical to understand the voice of the organization and plan accordingly.

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Speaking of challenges, she mentions resources and priorities while competing with mission-critical things. On bureaucracy, she notes that it is critical to figure out who in the room could say a ‘yes.’

Among other challenges, Schmidt includes the element of fear that comes after entering an organization, while trying to understand organizational expectations and relationships. She also sheds light on the fear of change that comes from the community within a company.

As everyone does not understand what a CDO does, there is a fear of the unknown, and everyone has a dissimilar set of expectations from the role, says Schmidt.

When asked about the importance of communication, she speaks about creating a maturity model for communication and marketing in one of her last roles. She states that the first step is to recognize its need and start working on it from the beginning.

Then, Schmidt talks about developing the part where there are assigned resources. Thirdly, she elaborates on the defined and informal stage where one can get help from the marketing and communication teams with the messaging.

Next, comes the managed and engaged part where a data marketing campaign has been created and set in motion, says Schmidt. That is when one can assess the metrics, the organizational impact, and stages of improvement.

Schmidt says that being a practitioner, she fills the gaps in the framework when she sees one. This is what she did with the maturity model to help communicate with the executive team and the stakeholders to know what to expect.

Moving forward, Schmidt says that data people often make the mistake of assuming that everyone has the same level of information on data. She adds that while people, processes, and technology are important, data is equally critical and data people must go back to the basics to articulate that message for the organizational stakeholders.

Sharing an instance, Schmidt says that in one of her former roles, she created a data campaign to articulate the message that data makes it possible. She adds that with 3-4 speaking points, it was to break down to the communities across organizations what data people meant by that and what they ask from the community of listeners.

When asked about mediums to deliver these messages, Schmidt asserts that it falls under the managed and engaged maturity stage where the team leverages different channels. It could be getting on an executive committee docket to discuss the agenda, creating an organizational channel, and leveraging it for publishing articles and Q&As around the topic.

In continuation, she discusses external forums like LinkedIn that enable and help gather an audience.

Emphasizing communication, Schmidt says that a CDO’s job revolves more around people than data. It is about behavior change, she adds, as CDOs need response from the people.

In conclusion, Schmidt asserts that CDOs are uber people managers using data to send the message while leveraging technology, policy framework, and processes to ensure data is seen as an asset.

CDO Magazine appreciates Dr. Diane. E. Schmidt for sharing her insights with our global community.

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