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Beyond the roundtable – CDOs and setting the vision

Beyond the Roundtable is an exclusive member only content series to continue the discussions from monthly DataIQ roundtables as there is always more to talk about at the end.

DataIQ (DIQ): When it comes to setting a vision, what are the key aspects a CDO (or senior data professional) should keep in mind to achieve success? 

Andy Ruckley (AR): There are a number of areas that help set the vision for the data function. For me, it is about the business readiness: does the business understand the role of data and analytics in achieving its goals? Data leaders must build a vision that focuses on the outcomes that support the business strategy or the big moves the company is undertaking by stating where data and analytics can help or support. An example from my experience would be: 


Our data vision is:

  • We see shipping data as an enduring strategic asset, effectively exploited to drive sustainable advantage at the vital points of pre-fixture and at-fixture workflows. 

Our mission:

  • Capitalise on our data to drive the collective intelligence of Sea/ (and its customers).
  • To be an analytical competitor by presenting the right info at the right time to the right people, support the workflows of our customers.
  • To drive revenue growth. 

I am linking that the data and analytics must support a level of competitive advantage based on the data and insight we are obtaining. 


DIQ: CDOs often must work their way into the larger conversations as their role is comparatively new: what tips and advice would you give to a new CDO trying to add weight to their standing in the organisation? 

AR: Understanding your stakeholders’ outcomes and challenges. If you achieve this, it will highlight the areas you can support them in – thus creating a value proposition for the data function. Find a willing and supportive function, or a couple of functions, to showcase your team’s skills and the insights they can produce. Go to their team meetings and demonstrate the insights your team has found.  


DIQ: Once a vision has been set, how should a CDO demonstrate progress to different areas of the organisation? 

AR: Simply, demonstrate progress to anyone that will listen. This will help raise the profile of the data team success. This starts to show there is a track record of wins and this can lead to being included in discussions to support other areas. For example, it is not unusual to then hear “Oh, that looks good. Can you do something like that for us?” 


DIQ: If a data professional does not think their CDO is helping to set the vision – perhaps the data officer is completely overlooked – what can they do to get their voice heard and progress data usage?  

AR: This is tricky as it all depends on the structure of the company, maturity of the data capability, relationship with CDO and more. I would probably create a straw man version of the vision, then try and talk to the CDO to ask for input. Once the conversation has started, I’d then suggest that this could be a way to go.  


DIQ: Once a CDO has captured a seat at the table and helped set the vision, what do they need to do to maintain that position for the foreseeable future?  

AR: Continue to deliver, bring regular relevant insights into discussions and drive thought leadership in other areas. Start to drive and influence discussions that support the business growth (based on current analytics and insights). 

Demonstrate progress to anyone that will listen.


DIQ: From your own experiences, what hints and tips would you give to someone in data eager to get involved with setting the wider organisational vision? 

AR: Talk to the department – if there is one – that does this already. Bear in mind, there could be separate strategy department. Speak to the CFO and CEO and explain you are interested in supporting the development of organisational vision as you have good insights and can get to data providing those insights. 

It is not just about reporting! Show the stakeholders that you have skills in critical thinking, that you are curious and are wanting to proactively make improvements. 


DIQ: Anything else you would like to add? 

AR: Do not only focus on technology or long-term deliverables – show that value can be obtained in the short term too. 

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