Chief Data Officers: Make Your First 100 Days Count

Registration is now open for Season 2 of the Informatica CDO Academy

Last Published: May 20, 2022 |
Kash Mehdi
Kash Mehdi

Data Governance, Cataloging and Privacy Segment Leader | Founder CDO Academy

Registration is now open for Season 2 of the Informatica CDO Academy

Now that we’re well over 100 days into the year, it’s time to assess: how is 2022 going for you so far? Are you hitting your objectives? Is your organization where you thought it would be?

You may remember my first blog of 2022, where I introduced Season 1 of the Informatica CDO Academy, our innovative new co-learning opportunity for Chief Data Officers (CDOs). We learned a lot from our first season, both from our industry speakers and from each other.

The First 100 Days Are Critical

CDOs are responsible for managing data as an asset. Given that, they have to take a holistic, organization-wide approach to ensure the delivery of clean and trusted data to citizen-consumers. This holistic approach can include establishing a fundamental governance framework, identifying business outcomes, setting up an organizational structure for stakeholder representation, and establishing a clear, practical and easily repeatable process for tackling data challenges.

CDOs can also set the organization up for success by making the right investment in fit-for-purpose data and user experience for business and technology communities. Other top of mind items for CDOs include transparency and collaboration around source-target data flows and business intelligence reporting. This inclues technology automation for labor-intensive tasks such as data quality, common business language, scanning, discovery, privacy and much more.

Is There a Typical (or Realistic) Roadmap for Success?

CDOs empower their teams to make data-driven decisions when they provide access to the right data at the right time. Unfortunately, enabling this access continues to be a challenge. A recent IDC Global Chief Data Officer Engagement Survey1 found that only 31% of organizations had been able to provide self-service access to all the data needed by different teams, and only 39% had standardized their data sharing and consumption functionality.

Solve for “X” in the Equation of People + Process + Technology + X = Success

As Benjamin Franklin wisely said, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” So, to solve for X in this equation, X = “Having a plan.”

For a CDO’s first 100 days, a best-practice plan to roll out a data initiative with technology automation capabilities could look like this:

Activities in a setup phase might include assigning roles and responsibilities, connecting to priority data domains and creating a data catalog that provides a holistic view of data across the enterprise. In addition, having an enablement plan across the data community is critical to achieving data literacy. The key is to lead with end-user experience and business adoption goals.

Activities in a plan phase might include identifying high-priority use cases and an intial roadmap draft that speaks to key business drivers (e.g., customer experience, analytics operational efficiency, regulatory compliance, digital transformation, etc.) and addressing key data challenges.

Activities in an adopt phase might include capturing common business language via a business glossary, setting up roles and responsibilities for the data stewards, mapping technical and business lineages to track data flows, and setting data quality rules, privacy standards and workflows to track change management activities. A key during the pilot is to keep things at a minimum and not boil the ocean, especially to de-risk adoption concerns.

Activities in an establish phase might include ongoing monitoring activities to gauge user experience and productivity gains. For example, a top priority for many CDOs is delivering clean and trusted data to citizen consumers. They are often asked: How do I measure the success of your data governance program/data initiative? Here is a list of signs that your data governance program is working:

  1. A common business language – everyone in the organization speaks the same language.
  2. The use of high-quality data for business activities (report creation, predictive analytics, etc.) and data-driven decision making. 
  3. A one stop-shop for all your data definitions, data flows and documented controls. This will allow CDOs to enable citizen consumers to move in concert to make the organization data driven.

The 80/20 Rule

Also known as the Pareto Principle2, the 80/20 rule asserts that 80% of outcomes (or outputs) result from 20% of all causes (or inputs) for any given event. In business, a goal of the 80/20 rule is to identify inputs that are potentially the most productive and make them the priority.

Since CDOs are the ones charged with making sure the quality of the data and its fitness meet business needs and create business value, they need to have a clear understanding of what the business needs are, and to put those needs first. Put another way, do you really know what your business needs are? Which business needs are the most important? How can you make sure that those needs are addressed first?

To put it in context, during the Season 1 of the CDO Academy (Day 1 of 3), 15 CDOs from various industries and geographies (covering Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America) were asked to rate different business drivers. The list below shows polling percentages:

  1. Insights and Analytics (15%)
  2. Regulatory Compliance (15%)
  3. Business Enablement (8%)
  4. Digital Transformation (15%)
  5. All the above (46%)

Surprisingly, the first instinct of the group was to select “All the above,” which received 46% of all polling votes. However, as we dived deeper into the second half of day one, it became clear that one of the first steps each CDO was taking was to focus on business enablement (i.e., breaking down data silos, understanding data patterns, adding meaning and business context to data, ownership, and much more) – which translates to 20% of all causes. So business enablement might be the priority business need that also helps you improve analytics and efficiency, have stronger regulatory compliance and drive digital transformation.

The above working activity during the CDO Academy reminded each of us of the Pareto Principle.

In addition to the above first-100 days plan, you can review practical guidance in my recent Information Governance World Magazine article, “4 Best Practices to Kickstart a Data Governance Program.”3


Technology Is a Means to an End, Not the End in Itself

As Danette McGilvray, the author of Ten Steps to Quality Data and Trusted Information, put it, “Thinking technology alone will take care of all your data quality problems is like thinking the right X-ray machine will make you healthy.” The right technology is essential, but it’s not the end of the story. To benefit from the technology you have, you need to include the data, processes, people and organizations that are critical to helping you use the technology successfully and to get the most value from your technology investments.

Keeping It Real

Perhaps most important of all, the CDO must manage the very human aspects of the data work in order to create widespread confidence and trust in the quality of the data. Good CDOs know how to communicate, manage and engage people throughout all of the different aspects of digital transformation. This can include an engaging approach to storytelling, a mediator’s mindset for conflict resolution, enthusiastic reinforcement and support for the key stakeholders, regular reminders to everyone about what’s in it for them and, last but not least, the ability to dangle some carrots of reward to keep everyone motivated along the way.

Deliver the Business Outcomes You Want

What would you like to accomplish in the next 100 days? What’s your vision for satisfying your customers, creating products and services which will drive monetary value? With the access to the right data at the right time, you can implement strategies against competition, achieve revenue goals, address internal issues and drive more opportunities for the business.

Join Us at Informatica World

Your data. Your future. Your event. It’s the premier event on data, cloud and AI. Grab your virtual front-row seat today to hear from industry leaders such as Freddie Mac CDO Aravind Jagannathan, Volvo Group SVP and Head of Data Thomas Baillon, and leaders from Microsoft, Google Cloud, AWS and Snowflake. Register now.

Register for Season 2 of The CDO Academy

Come for the best practices and roadmap. Stay for the validation and community. As a CDO, you are excited about the impact data can have on our businesses and lives. You have a strong vision and see the opportunities, but you are also acutely aware of the many challenges that need to be overcome to realize your vision. With digital transformation initiatives abounding at organizations across the globe, you have one of the most important roles, but arguably also one of the most difficult ones.

Designed to help you develop strategies and build a data-driven culture to overcome these hurdles, Season 2 of the CDO Academy features six packed and fast-paced hours over three sessions, where we will discuss topics such as:

  • What are YOUR business drivers?
  • Establishing a framework for achieving business outcomes
  • Building a coalition of the willing
  • Setting up an organization charter (centralized, de-centralized, or federated model)
  • The CDO checklist
  • Technology quick wins to match the business needs
  • And much more!

Because we keep the group small, we will dive deeper and cover more — including discussions and sharing with your peers — than you can get from a conventional roundtable or webinar. We also won’t ask you to block a full week or even a full day. Register now and join a growing community of data leaders who “think in data” by supporting critical business drivers like insights and analytics, regulatory compliance, data literacy, digital transformation and much more.

Looking forward to (virtually) meeting you soon!


1 IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Informatica, “Driving Business Value from Data in the Face of Fragmentation and Complexity,” (Doc#US48293521, November 2021)



First Published: May 19, 2022