ADVICE FROM CDOs
LEARN FROM THOSE WHO WIN IN THE DATA ECONOMY
Chief data officers of leading organizations tell their stories
GLOBAL RESEARCH RESULTS
LEARN HOW TO BECOME A DATA-FORWARD BUSINESS
There's been plenty of talk about the data economy, but to gain real value, you need to understand what the data economy looks like, how to know when your organization is participating in it, and how to measure success. Here's what some leading chief data officers had to say about how they're succeeding with data.
DATA IS NOT THE END GOAL
Instead of data dictating the application, the business question and opportunity should lead the process, said ThoughtSpot’s Chief Data Strategy Officer, Cindi Howson.
She’s seen organizations start “bottom up,” focusing on the data they’re already capturing rather than thinking holistically about data across the whole ecosystem. Instead, said Howson, businesses should flip the question and ask themselves: “What are the business outcomes we’re trying to drive? What’s the data we’d like that supports those outcomes? And is it readily available?”
Everything we do needs to align to some sort of business purpose and a goal from a vision standpoint. It’s the first cornerstone—there’s no glory in doing technology without any alignment to the business. The whole technology roadmap has to align to the business priority.
— BHASKAR PEDDHAPATI,
Head of Global Platform Engineering, NielsenIQ
MODERN TECHNOLOGY AND DEMOCRATIZED ANALYTICS INDICATE CULTURE
It’s no secret. To succeed in one area, you need to be doing the same in others. A great data culture exists only when other great initiatives in an organization are in place. For these leaders, it’s technology and putting modern analytics in the hands of nearly every business professional.
“To me, culture and technology are two sides of the same proverbial coin,” Howson said. “When I see an innovative culture based on transparency and trust, I also see modern technology platforms. When I see a culture of fear, complacency, settling for status quo and ‘good enough,’ or they’re not looking at the macro environment, then I see a lot of legacy technology.”
Ashok Chennuru, Chief Data & Insights Officer, Anthem, Inc., said culture starts at the top. But democratizing data throughout the organization is also essential. And the best results come when every employee has access to the data, tools, and people to deliver data-driven insights.
“Our core focus is self-service and hypothesis-driven discovery,” said Chennuru. “Rather than only answering the questions the business users have, let the data show where you need to focus. We call this ‘analytics democratization.’
“We’ve seen the concept of data democratization, but how do we democratize analytics? And how do we scale it so it’s not limited to only a few power users? Its access and scale has to be for every information consumer across the company.”
IF YOU HAVE A CDO, GREAT. IF YOU DON'T, GET ONE. EITHER WAY, IT'S TIME TO RETHINK THAT ROLE.
For many organizations, their data strategy is their business strategy. That means the CDO’s role will be to establish and drive your organization’s data culture. Data management is key, enabling nearly any business professional to get the data and insights that will transform every department in an organization.
They’ll be seen as business leaders just as much as technology leaders.
Anybody looking for a chief data officer needs to find somebody who’s looking at data through the lens of enabling the business and its people, as well as the customer. Obviously data management and governance are part of it, but I think the strategic lens of business enablement is key.
— BIBA HELOU,
SVP Enterprise Data Platforms & Risk Management Technologies, Capital One
This could mean that the roles of the CDO, chief analytics officer, and chief information officer converge, which is an exciting prospect for Thomas Mazzaferro, CDO at Western Union. Rather than just handling data security, his role is becoming more about exploring how the business can use data to transform itself.
Unfortunately, some industries have been slower to realize this. “A lot of executives don’t see that role yet,” said Mazzaferro. “Because they don’t have the expertise to connect the dots and understand that the CDO isn’t just responsible for looking after the data--they must also leverage data to create value.”
DATA MUST REVEAL AND ADVANCE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
The more data, the more you know about your customers. By participating in the data economy, you gain access to exponentially more data than your business can generate. Geographic, demographic, and other types of public data sets will reveal more about your customers and how you can even better serve them.
At Anthem, for instance, Ashok Chennuru says that data sharing enables a 360-degree view of patient care, streamlines operations, and reduces procedure wait times. For example, Anthem can now use data to automate prior authorizations. For patients waiting for urgent treatment, this can make a huge difference.
“When you go to a physician for an X-ray or a CT scan or an expensive procedure, you have to wait,” said Chennuru. “Why? Because there’s a lot of paper faxing going back and forth between the payer and the physician.
“By electronically transmitting this medical evidence, such as charts from the physicians, and comparing it to clinical policy, we can automate the process and respond to the physician within two or three minutes.”
Meanwhile, in the financial services industry, a similar holistic approach is hyper-personalizing financial products to serve the customer better.
Mazzaferro explained how they’re approaching this at Western Union. “Really understand the business problem and how you can fix it,” he said. “Then think about the products you want to offer and how they can be data-enabled, through hyper-personalization or delivering a seamless customer experience across multiple customer touchpoints.”
TECHNOLOGY IS KEY AND A DATA PLATFORM SHOULD BE THE HEART OF YOUR DATA STRATEGY
Modern data sharing, and its many use cases within and beyond the four walls of an organization, should be the backbone of your cloud data platform. This is how you gain access to the data economy. At the same time, the platform must be able to centralize previously siloed data and make it easier and more efficient to integrate and analyze that data.
Inevitably, some platforms perform better than others. “We definitely believe we are leading the pack with regard to sharing data in real time,” said Jon Hyman, Co-Founder and CTO of the cloud-based software company Braze, which provides a customer engagement platform. “Our streaming product continuously sends customers real-time engagement data. We know that this data loses its value as time goes on, so we want to make sure customers are acting on the most recent data available in order to create personalized and memorable customer experiences.”
NielsenIQ confirms that real-time data becomes even more valuable when they break down data silos, centralize that data, and expand access to it across the business. Over the past five years, the company has pulled all of its data into one platform so that manufacturers can compare their category against US and international markets on a single screen.
“It really is amazing to have these data sets all in one place,” said Peddhapati. “This not only allows you to see what’s driving that drop or increase in sales—you can also connect to what-if analysis with more predictive forecasting. Everything is done in one suite of products working in harmony, which is a breakthrough because the data sets weren’t collected the same way before and therefore weren’t talking to each other. The interfaces were incompatible.”
MONETIZING DATA CAN CREATE A MULTITUDE OF NEW BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES
Monetizing data can take many forms: commercializing anonymized and governed slices of your data, creating new data applications for widespread distribution to customers and industry partners, and partnering with other companies to bring new data products to market. The list goes on, and the benefits never seem to end.
Anthem Inc., aggregates data to recommend treatment tailored to each patient. No more one-size-fits-all referrals—soon, patients will be directed to doctors whose skillset is suited to their specific needs.
What we’re pivoting to is more like a Netflix member match. We’re saying, ‘Based on your conditions, here is the right orthopedic surgeon for you.’ And we measure the rating for the orthopedic surgeon based on the number of surgeries he’s done. So let’s say you’re a 50-year-old diabetic with hypertension, we’ll also factor in how many surgeries he’s done on diabetics who are 50 years old, and what the outcomes were. We rank them based on multiple criteria and then do the match, so it’s not purely based on location.
— ASHOK CHENNURU,
Chief Data & Insights Officer, Anthem, Inc.
Data sharing partnerships are not only mutually beneficial, but they can also identify opportunities and expose new ways of approaching problems. NielsenIQ, for instance, has the NielsenIQ Partner Network—a vendor collaboration platform that offers access to large amounts of curated, aggregated data, as well as analytics and insights.
“We’re very proud of this program,” Peddhapati said, “which provides NielsenIQ’s many partners with streamlined access to industry-leading data. This enables them to enhance their own solutions and easily collaborate with our customers and other partners to create value for retailers and manufacturers across the globe.”
DATA, NOT JUST THE APPLICATION, IS TODAY'S ORGANIZATION'S KEY ASSET
It’s no secret that data determines the application. No longer is the opposite true. But most organizations are just beginning to understand what’s possible with data: fresh insights, local and global collaboration, business innovation, data monetization, and more. And these new opportunities are only possible, and on a much bigger scale, when an organization is freely participating in the data economy to access and share data on a daily basis.
This is what the data economy really represents: the potential to open up opportunities.
“It’s sometimes hard to imagine what’s possible without knowing what’s out there that you can use,” said Capital One’s Biba Helou. “At our company, just having access to and seeing what type of information is out there has really opened up the innovative spirit.”