• Brett Arnott, VP Marketing

The Data & Analytics Leader of the Future: The Change Agent

An expert panel at CDO & Data Leaders' Global Summit 2021 discussed the future of the CDO and CAO. And the future is all about driving change.

"You [change agents] need a backbone, not a wishbone" - Sol Rashidi, Chief Analytics Officer at The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.

The CDO & Data Leaders' Global Summit 2021 on May 5th attracted close to 2,000 attendees, and top data and analytics leaders from around the world.


When experts come together to share ideas and experiences they can inspire innovation and accelerate change. And that is what we witnessed on the expert panel; CDO 2030: How to prepare for the future.


Four great leaders representing different perspectives of data and analytics came together for the panel:

  • Deba Sahoo, SVP, Head of Product for Customer Journeys at Fidelity Investments

  • Sol Rashidi, Chief Analytics Officer at The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.

  • Roshan Awatar, Chief Data Officer at Lloyds Banking Group

  • Kaycee Lai, CEO & Founder at Promethium

The 3 key takeaways from the panel:

  1. The origin story for data and analytics leaders was shaped by industry needs

  2. Data and analytics leaders need to be change agents linked to business outcomes

  3. A product centric approach to data and analytics is needed

The origin story for data and analytics leaders was shaped by industry needs


The first question asked of the panel was, "You need to know where you are now to be able to get to where you are going. How do you see the current state of the CDO org and role?"


Roshan's answer stood out because with all the hype around being data driven it is easy to forget the reason why many data leaders were appointed. Roshan said, "In highly regulated industries the CDO emerged from crisis."


Compliance and governance was the origin for many data leaders. And for many it still is their key focus. But the panel told us to expect change.


Roshan gave insight into how the situation is changing, and foreshadowed what other data leaders in the same situation can expect - a call for return on investment beyond compliance and governance. "You spent all this money on compliance, where is the return?", said Roshan.


Data and analytics leaders need to be change agents linked to business outcomes


This discussion among the panel resulted in some of the most quotable comments of the entire session.


It was clear that Sol has experienced the highs and lows of being a driver of change. "Being a change leader is over glorified. You need a backbone not a wishbone.", Sol said of her experience driving change.


So as a driver of change, what happens when data and analytics uncovers insights that conflict with the way the business has been running? It's a valid concern, and one that the panel was able to provide this advice for; Data and analytics is an outsider to the business. So the business leader needs to own the results and the outcome.


All panelists agreed that data and analytics needs to be linked to business outcomes. Many organizations are data rich, but not yet data driven. There is an abundance of exciting opportunity for data and analytics to drive business outcome with their data.


A product centric approach to data and analytics is needed


Demand for data and analytics driven change exists and is growing. The experts on the panels discussed the desire to drive higher adoption and utilization of data.


Everyone benefits from higher adoption. Deba for better experiences for Fidelity customers. Kaycee for more opportunities to help organizations meet demand and grow utilization of data and analytics with Promethium's products. Sol to help business leaders at Estee identify and own change opportunities. Roshan to show a return from data for Lloyd's Banking invests.


Even with four different perspectives there is a single commonality - they are all using data and analytics in the service of business needs. They can all identify a set of customers and customer needs. A customer be an external paying customer, or an internal business leader.


A product centric approach to data and analytics provides the benefits of building something that satisfies the needs of many, that is reusable, that can be enhanced to meet changing needs and that can scale.


In fact, Sol said, "We take a product centric approach because everything we build needs to scale."


Some considerations when building a product centric approach to data and analytics:

  • Needs: Get to know your customers and what they need. Group needs by similarity, importance, urgency and volume of demand.

  • Reusable: Take inspiration from Google and organize datasets and analytics so that they are easy to find and use. This avoids wasted time on one time projects and duplicated efforts building something that already exists.

  • Scale:

  • Fast iteration, with regular feedback from your customer while building. Or to put it another way, don't work for months and wait for feedback only when you are finished.

  • Offer self service. Back in my days running IT help desks we used an approach to increase scale and speed (and improve the customer experience) called "shift left". The idea is simple and effective - move tasks to lower cost, higher volume resources, including moving to self service solutions where it makes sense. Can you include self service for data and analytics in your products?

It was an absolute honor and pleasure to moderate the this panel. This type of exchange from prominent leaders is what will continue to drive data and analytics forward.


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