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Every business should have a data and analytics leader

Your organisation has valuable data that can be used to grow revenues, reduce costs, reduce risk, improve customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction. This data is captured in your systems, emails, files … it’s everywhere. Generating value from your data is something that can be done by data scientists, data engineers, and in fact pretty much anyone in your business who is data savvy. 

The value of the data economy of EU27 was almost €325 billion in 2019, representing 2.6 % of GDP. The same estimate predicts that it will increase to over €550 billion by 2025, representing 4 % of the overall EU GDP (Source: Final study report: The European Data Market Monitoring tool)

However, in order to maximise that value for your business you need a data leader. Every business should have a data & analytics leader. There is no one right way of doing this, not one size that fits all. But without accountability and expertise your business will not succeed. Some large organisations have a Chief Data Officer (CDO) or Chief data & analytics officer, others may have a head of data and Head of Data Science. 

According to a report from business intelligence firm S&P Global Market Intelligence and cloud access control company Immuta, polling 525 data leaders in the US, Canada, UK, Germany and France for the report, the two companies found that 40 percent don’t have a CDO, although larger enterprises are more likely to have one in place.

There are a few reasons why firms may not have a data leader. Firstly, they may not have realised the value yet. Secondly, they may not have the budget. Thirdly, they may have tried and failed. 

If your business has yet to realise the value of data then you should get some advice and you’ll need a data strategy. A data strategy is the link between the business goals and how data & analytics can support them. The strategy should give you some idea of the potential value to your business and be capable of being implemented. It’ll be the basis of bringing in a data leader. Someone who can deliver it. 

If you don’t think you have the budget, then consider firstly the cost of doing nothing, the potential of lost revenue and your competition eating your breakfast. All businesses have competition for investment but the chances are your data is an enabler to most of your other business cases. I reviewed 117 projects and programmes at one previous employer to discover that over 90% of them were underpinned by data & analytics. Often that fact was buried in the detail. The delivery of the enabling data capabilities would have been cheaper and faster if it was done against one strategy. Lots of projects in themselves do not make a strategy!

Many organisations bring in the wrong person and then watch it fail. I’ve seen many people being given the job title without the experience. My advice would be either get some advice before you recruit or bring in a mentor for them. They can help grow and mentor your own resources, who if left to their own devices may fail. That’s a win-win for your organisation and for the individual.

Finally, if you can’t afford a full time CDO think about getting a part time adviser or a virtual CDO. An experienced person, who’s been there and knows how to do it, can add a lot of value to your business, even if you only use them a few days a month, or on demand. 

There is more detail in my upcoming book “data & analytics strategy for business (Kogan Page) due to be published in 2022. DataTick offers data advisory, data strategy, and virtual CDO capabilities.

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