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The Aptitude Blog

The continued rise of the Chief Data Officer

December 16, 2014
Posted by Sarah Werner

Relatively speaking, the Chief Data officer (CDO) is a new position in the corporate world. In 2003, Capital One appointed the first CDO. By 2015, about 25% of the 500 largest companies will have one in place, according to research firm Gartner Inc. (source)

Similar to the hype versus reality around big data itself, many organizations are struggling to understand the exact role of a CDO and how they should be positioned within the company. This was reflected in the broad range of topics covered at a recent Chief Data Officer Event in London. However, there are recurring themes around the opportunities and challenges for CDO’s to affect the areas of data quality, data governance and data visualization.

One single version of the truth: Data Quality

The increased volume of data only exacerbates the need for a Chief Data Officer to set a strong data quality policy. A recent presentation from the Head of Data Governance at a top UK Bank talked about the need to create personal accountability for data quality within the organization. They are looking to achieve this through a novel ‘polluter pays’ model that would make the providers of data coming into the company personally liable for the quality.

In addition to establishing a culture of data quality, establishing a single location where data is integrated and standardized before being made available for various calculation engines or business analytics tools can help minimize data movement and spreadsheet use.  Having all departments access the same source of data can eliminate departmental disagreements and allow the organization to act on the analysis.

Controlling the big data flood: Data Governance

Big data architectures such as Hadoop offer the chance for companies to store more data than ever before at a reasonable price point. However, just because you can store vast amounts of data doesn’t mean that you should or that it is legal to do so. Managing these sometimes competing demands is a core part of maintaining an effective data governance process.  For example, global privacy and transparency laws require that companies be able to properly explain why they are collecting personal data and where they plan to utilize it. This means being able to access datasets at a granular level to understand the source in order to apply the correct privacy standard.

Data governance can encompass anything from data compliance to information standardization to outlining the strategic use of data within an organization.  Despite its many aspects, the Chief Data Officer for an international insurance and financial services organization captured the true goal, “the word governance—people become deaf to it.  What’s really important is the value that can be delivered by well governed data.” (source)

Painting the right picture: Data Visualization

The last few years have seen a significant increase in the availability and accessibility of high quality data visualization tools. While these tools can help paint a story with data, they can also create images that can be misleading if the underlying detail and processes are not clearly understood.

Any good data scientist will tell you that given a pool of data, one can develop a solid basis to support virtually any hypothesis. Thus the real skill of the data scientist is being able to look at the data to understand the correct narrative and then presenting that story in the most suitable fashion. This means asking questions about cause and effect versus unrelated positive correlation.

How Aptitude Software can help the CDO

Aptitude Software’s unique platform helps Chief Data Officers and information architects to rapidly develop new business applications to facilitate data-driven insight.  The Aptitude™ platform can integrate high volumes of detailed data from across the organization while ensuring data governance, quality and transparency.  Extremely flexible in nature, the Aptitude platform leverages key big data technologies and allows the business to change application rules and processes without overburdening IT.  Finally, our platform integrates with your existing business analytics and visualization tools.

For more information, check out the Aptitude platform solution page.

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This blog post was written by:

Sarah Werner
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