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Data chiefs must sharpen strategic focus, says Gartner

Data chiefs must sharpen strategic focus, says Gartner
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Chief data officers (CDOs) and their data and analytics (DA) teams are focusing on the right priorities but are not yet balancing their responsibilities in the best manner possible, according to a survey by market research firm Gartner.

The global survey of 257 CDOs, chief analytics officers and other high-level executives found that the creation of a data-driven culture was the most critical factor to the DA teams.

However, there were conflicting rankings for technical and non-technical activities such as data integration and data skills training, and strategic and tactical activities.

“CDOs are generally focused upon the right things, but they do not have the right mix of activities,” Debra Logan, distinguished research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement.

The survey found out that the implementation of a DA strategy was ranked the third-most critical success factor while another strategic activity – creating a data literacy programme – was ranked 12th. ‘Poor data literacy’ was rated the No. 1 roadblock to creating a data-driven culture and realizing its business benefits, the company said.

While the survey shows that information governance is important, CDOs should never lose sight of the business outcomes they are trying to achieve, Gartner said.

Logan said CDOs are embracing emerging technologies to drive data programmes. Machine learning (ML) was rated as critical by 76% of the respondents and artificial intelligence by 67%. While 65% respondents were using or piloting ML, 53% were using or piloting AI. Less than 20% of CDOs surveyed were using or piloting smart contracts or blockchain.

Gartner said that only 8% of CDOs were measuring the financial value of data and analytics, 45% reported they produce some data quality metrics – such as accuracy and usage – while 29% measured the impact of key information and data assets on business processes.

The majority of CDOs generated value from information assets to improve internal processes (60%) and increase the value of products and services (57%), with a focus on efficiency. About 55% of CDOs reported a focus on enhancing new offerings by innovating with information.

Logan said a successful CDO needs to emphasise the importance of providing measurable business outcomes, balancing tactical and strategic initiatives especially when it comes to technology implementation and experimenting with digital emerging technologies.

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