by Caroline Carruthers

Being a Chief Data Officer in the current climate is a rather interesting position. It can feel a little like dancing on quicksand whilst simultaneously learning to juggle wriggling snakes. At Carruthers and Jackson we are determined to help people interested in this area. So, whether you are a new CDO, a well-established data hero, or just wondering what all the fuss is about, we have worked on a set of articles to answer some of the questions we are asked at nearly every conference we go to. While we can't promise you a solution to all your data-related problems handed to you on a plate, we can promise that, once a week, you can look forward to another concise, interesting and easy-to-read article to help you on your data and information-related journey.

So why does any organisation need a Chief Data Officer? Hiring a CDO at the appropriate level will be a big investment, and they aren't going to just come on their own – they'll need assistance. A team of some sort, even when sourced from positions within the organisation, will cause disruption and potentially add cost.

So why bother? The company got along just fine without one before, right? Or did they?

We now have access to more data than ever before, and we've all become hoarders when it comes to fact and figures. It doesn't cost us much to keep it, so why not keep it all, just in case? Well, having so much of it means that, not only can we not see the wood for the trees, we don't value the wood anymore. We have lost focus on why we are collecting data, what we are hoping to get from it, and what benefits we can derive from it.

So, what are we going to get from data, and why collect it in the first place?

This ties into the concept of the information value chain. How does the information you use link into the value chain for the organisation? What end result are you expecting and what do you need to get there? This isn't just about using the five whys – don't stop at five, start asking question and don't stop. The focus has to be on delivery and benefit. If collecting the data doesn't deliver benefit, stop doing it! Keep your limited resources focused on doing what gives you benefits. A CDO gives you this clarity and direction.

All of this is before you stop and look at the small mistakes that are happening on a daily basis that, when you add them all up, are costing your company time and money that you don't want to waste. To give you a simple example – if someone in your sales department enters the wrong company name in the billing name field on the CRM, such as ACME Ltd rather than ACME (UK) Ltd, an invoice will be raised on 90-day payment terms for the wrong company. You may not find out until day 89. So, because the sales team made a tiny error, it has cost the company 90 days cash flow. Or how about reputational damage because you base your decisions on flawed data that you were convinced was right?

There is no single big reason to convince you to hire your first CDO, but there are a multitude of small mistakes happening every day that all add up – preventing those mistakes is a compelling reason to hire a CDO.

Discover Data Science, Data Analytics and AI courses at QA, a great way to improve data literacy in your organisation. Or discover more about our Data, Analytics and AI Apprenticeships

About QA Group

QA helps individuals and organisations achieve their potential through world-class Learning Strategy and Solutions. This includes: training and certification, innovative Talent Solutions that solve both business critical skills and capability gaps, Business Transformation solutions, enabling change and transformation through engagement and education of workforces, and Managed Learning Services. In addition, QA provides consultancy, apprenticeships and post graduate degrees on a range of technical, business and leadership subjects. With over 22 UK training centres – including Apprenticeships, Consulting and Cyber Academies – and a range of online learning options, QA offers an unparalleled set of learning solutions to both private and public sector organisations.

QA Group is working in close partnership with Carruthers and Jackson to deliver consultancy and learning interventions to help executives, senior stakeholders and the wider organisation understand how to deliver transformational value from data. The following is part of a series of ten blogs by Caroline Carruthers, re-published with permission especially for QA's customers and for any other organisation seeking revolutionary opportunities from the best use of data.

About Carruthers and Jackson

In the world we live in, data is recognised as an asset but organisations are still struggling with how to drive the true value from it. We look to all the exciting advances being made around innovations like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (augmented intelligence), but if organisations don't get their data right first, they are just building houses of cards. Carruthers and Jackson was set up to make sure this doesn't happen to you.

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