Chief change agent: Emerging technology defines chief data officer role


Every day, technology offers businesses new possibilities and fresh opportunities. However, a business forged around the technology of five years ago, or even in the distant past of 10 years ago, won’t have the tools or people to take advantage of what today brings.

The Chief Data Officer role is an attempt to address this balance for big Data technologies. As the technology around data changes, so too must the CDO role.

“In terms of CDO, it has been continuously evolving,” said Inderpal Bhandari (pictured, left), global chief data officer at IBM Corp.

Bhandari and Jesus Mantas (pictured, right), managing partner and general manager of cognitive process transformation at IBM, spoke to Jeff Frick (@JeffFrick) and Peter Burris (@plburris), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s mobile live-streaming studio, during the IBM CDO Strategy Summit 2017 in San Francisco. (*Disclosure below.)

The conversation focused on what it means to be a CDO in a modern business, the changing CDO role, and how data is disrupting businesses at the process and personnel level.

The challenges of change

The CDO role is a new thing and somewhat uncertain. No one really knows how the coming years will define it. In his first job as CDO, Bhandari had to create the role for himself. His company knew data would be critical but had no concept for the CDO position.

The priority then involved aligning the data with the company strategy, using the data to help the business make money. The data itself was just a tool, not a true asset, Bhandari pointed out.

In just a few years, the scope and value of both data and the role have expanded significantly, Mantas added. Data is seen as a fuel for value creation.

“There are two words I use to describe my job: change agent,” Bhandari said.

New technology isn’t just changing the role of the CDO, but also the processes of other departments and roles at the company. The CDO pulls value from the data, but often the value is in changing other jobs to take advantage of what the data offers, Bhandari explained.

The constraint now is preparing business leaders to use the data, Mantas stated. That’s a resistance point, because the information can change their jobs as well.

“Even if the data is correct, many leaders will say, “I don’t believe it,” and then if they don’t adopt it, they don’t get the value of it,” Mantas said.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the IBM Chief Data Officer Strategy Summit. (*Disclosure: IBM and other companies sponsor some IBM CDO Strategy Summit segments on SiliconANGLE Media’s theCUBE. Neither IBM nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE