The CDO playbook: building bolder expectations for data-driven businesses


By 2019, 90 percent of organizations will have a Chief Data Officer and 50 percent of them will fail, according to a Gartner Inc. report published last year. To reduce the failure rate, IBM’s Institute for Business Value created The Chief Data Officer playbook, which lays out the six key questions organizations need to think about.

“It [the CDO office] is very is difficult to put in place because of culture change. It is certainly a different way to think. But we are certainly not seeing the turnover we were seeing in the early years of CDOs or hopefully the failure rate that Gartner predicted,” said Rebecca Shockley (pictured, right), global analytics research leader, IBM Institute for Business Value, at IBM Corp.

Shockley and  Priya Vijayarajendran (pictured, left), chief technical officer, cognitive/IoT/analytics/Watson Health, at IBM, sat down with Jeff Frick (@JeffFrick) and Peter Burris (@plburris), co-hosts of theCUBE from SiliconANGLE’s live streaming studio, during the IBM Chief Data Officer Strategy Summit in San Francisco. (*Disclosure below.)

The discussion centered on the state of the CDO role in the enterprise.

The CDO playbook

The CDO playbook outlines the chief data officer’s role in three parts, Shockley and Vijayarajendran explained. The data integrator that gathers data and focuses on its quality and bringing the organization up to speed. The business optimizer that uncovers how to use data to optimize their internal processes or external relationships. And market innovator to use the data to innovate with new business models as well as building strategies to monetize the data.

The problem, according to Shockley, is that in a recent survey of 800 CDOs conducted by IBM, the CDO’s role assessment hangs on all three of those categories. and it is hard to do all three things at once. The reality for most CDOs is that being the data integrator takes up much of their time before they get to optimizing and innovating.

“It’s become a universal fact that we need data governance and everything around consolidating data, as well as the value of insight we get. Now, CDOs and the rest of the organization … have this mandate to start executing [with the data],” Vijayarajendran said.

Her role is to work with IBM customers to find the dominant business value and find the areas that are data driven. She is targeting where cognitive and automation can bring change. Vijayarajendran’s strategy often begins with a business problem that anchors the stakeholders within the organization.

Attacking the problem accentuates the business value. It is trying to solve and work backward to highlight relevant data and apply the right technologies and toolkits, Vijayarajendran explained. IBM is also using Data as a Platform to create new businesses and monetize data

In the past, their application programming had several layers and data existed as one single layer. As CDOs begin dissolving silos and become more data-driven, there will be more opportunities.

“I have bolder expectations on this because of data and the way it becomes an asset [and] not a liability, folds up many of the layers of the applications that we have,” Vijayarajendran said.

Data driven is the new way of thinking about all aspects of the business and understanding that data is an asset, not a commodity, she said, adding that IBM is seeking to complement humans, not replace them.

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