By Dr. Markum Reed
Associate Professor of Data Analytics

Feb. 22, 2019

What does it mean for an organization to be data-driven? How does an organization get there? Organizations often believe that just because they collect large amounts of data and utilize the latest techniques that they are data-driven. These organizations need a clear direction; they need a Chief Data Officer. They need to answer two questions; Is our company making the most of our data? and How can we be more data-driven? The MIT CDOIQ-iCDO program wants to stimulate discussion about what more can be done to make use of this key resource, data. Being data-driven must be woven into the fabric of a company.  CDO’s foster, build and run internal analytics programs, deciding what data to gather and store, how to access it and make sense of it, how to access it and make sense of it, and most crucially, how to act on it.

Last month, the joint MIT CDOIQ-iCDO team launched the ‘Data Governance Practices in the Public and Private sector’ project. We are collecting companies’ experiences and approaches as it relates to data governance policy and practices. We aim to develop and improve the definition of data governance specifically; we are interested in how organizations define data governance within their respective fields.

Moreover, we are interested in the CDO’s role within an organization. We will look into how the CDO’s work can make the data science pipeline more efficient. Specifically, we are interested in how the CDO can facilitate data management and data collection strategies. Improve communication between analysts and the C-suite. This can be done by studying the data science pipeline (or value chain) within organizations.

Furthermore, we wish to determine the best way to setup CDO offices based on current organizational construction. We are exploring how organizations ensure that they are using the right data sources and ensure that data are high quality and trustworthy. The next step in that chain is analysis; how does the CDO secure the right analysts with the right skill-set for their organization so that they can generate impactful insights.  CDO’s must understand what makes a good analyst and what are the best conditions for those analysts. Meaning, how do CDO ’s set up their analytics teams? The final aspect of the pipeline is making decisions with those analyses and insights. We wish to uncover what makes decision-making hard and how it can be improved.

Being data-driven is not just about data or the latest big data toolset, but it is culture. The CDO must help foster a data-driven culture within their organization. Culture is the dominant aspect that sets expectations of how far data is governed, how it is used and viewed across the organization, and the resources and training invested in using data as an asset. A true data-driven organization is a data democracy.