What Does it Take to Succeed as a CDO in the Age of COVID-19?

What Does it Take to Succeed as a CDO in the Age of COVID-19?

3 key takeaways from the 2020 Chief Data Officer Symposium. When COVID-19 hit the U.S. in March 2020, the first role hired for by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) was a Chief Data Officer. Not surprisingly, COVID-19 and GDPR, it’s close cousin in terms of cultural relevance, were top of mind for everyone at this year’s all-virtual MIT Chief Data Officer Symposium. In this article, I share three key takeaways from the event and propose next steps for CDOs to retain their competitive edge in this remote-first, data-obsessed world.

In this article, I share three key takeaways from the event and propose next steps for CDOs to retain their competitive edge in this remote-first, data-obsessed world.

It’s day one, hour four of MIT’s annual Chief Data Officer Symposium and, despite being entirely virtual, the conversations couldn’t be more real.

My first “too true” moment came during a panel featuring the CDOs of some of the world’s most impressive companies, from McDonalds to the Bank of the U.S., in the form of a nugget of wisdom from Milind Kamkolkar, CDO of Cellarity:

“In today’s world, being a data-driven business simply means being a business.”

Yes! If I was in the audience, I would have started clapping. (And maybe I did, just a little bit, in front of my computer screen).

At the symposium, Milind’s comments and many others made by other data leaders spoke to the undeniable truth that data — and the role of the CDO — are becoming increasingly important for every enterprise.

As the event progressed, one major theme emerged: that COVID-19 and GDPR (two of 2020’s buzziest topics) have forever altered what success looks like for CDOs, and that, regardless of industry, data teams must respond to their demands to succeed in their roles.

As highlighted by Randy Bean, CEO of NewVantage, during his aptly titled panel, “Ensuring the Success in the Chief Data Officer Role,” the responsibilities of the modern CDO are still nascent and evolving. Over the course of the symposium, speakers presented their own arguments for what a CDO should focus on and how they should set their strategy to meet the demands of COVID-19, GDPR, and other industry seachanges.

Despite their differences (just like snowflakes, no two CDOs are the same) I found that they all agreed on** three key things: the importance of a robust and **automated approach to data governance, the need for data quality solutions, and the promise of data democratization. Importantly, data democratization has the potential to truly scale the impact of the former two initiatives and many others at the company-wide level.

data-science chief-data-officer data-democratization data data-quality

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