[Expert] The chief data officer: the new Mr. ROI? by Bertrand Duperrin

by bold-lichterman

The digitization of society and business is leading to the emergence of new professions. Among these the Chief Data Officer, or CDO (pleasant Anglicism which avoids us a “data manager”). The chief data officer is responsible for the governance of data and their use as company assets that need to be valued at best.

No need to make long speeches on its future importance in the organization when one realizes to such an extent that data is today the fuel of the company and its good use an essential factor of competitiveness. Of course, this is nothing new and, to mention just this discipline, data mining is anything but new. But the context has changed.

Data has always existed. It’s their importance that changes

First, the nature of the data. In addition to the good old “systems of records” filled with profusion of “hard” data, “systems of engagement” and their “soft” data, unstructured qualitative, which are often non-digital and whose meaning must therefore be extracted.

Then the mass of data. No need to overwhelm you with numbers, but we generate huge amounts every day. 2.5 quintillion bytes daily according to IBM which also reminds us that 90% of the existing data in the world has been generated in the last two years. A quintillion is a follow-up of 18 zeros. More concretely, it is the equivalent of 57 billion 32 GB iPads generated every day.

Then comes technology: today we have the means to process such volumes and to make automatic natural language processing (or natural language processing) which makes it possible to give meaning to written, unstructured information.

Finally, there is the growing importance of properly processing this data. Because we are in a world where the exception and the change become the norm and that failure to foresee it is necessary to understand in real time what is happening and to try to predict what will happen in the short term. The company cannot in fact be satisfied with forecasting the future (forecasting is based only on the feeling, intuition and limited rationality of the individual) whereas prediction requires the understanding and exploitation of models and is based only on facts. Facts that may or may not be numbers, but tangible things all the same.

The stake – but we will speak at greater length in other posts – is to treat together “hard” and “soft” data, facts and feelings on the one hand, figures on the other hand, to find how they interact and are correlated , impact in order to have an informed and realistic view of the situation at an instant T, to attempt to predict the impact of possible decisions and to measure this impact in real time.

The impact is obvious for marketing departments which are, in essence, the place where this new discipline will flourish, but we will also talk about it later. I see the Chief Data Officer playing a central role in the organization in the very short term for a completely different reason: he is the only one able to solve the squaring of the circle, in other words prove the ROI and measure the impact of new uses and behaviors. within the framework of corporate social networks and more generally in the perspective of enterprise 2.0 or social business projects.

Correlate behavior and business indicators

How difficult is the question of the ROI of such projects and even, more generally, of measuring the performance of projects aimed at improving performance by transforming practices and behaviors? This is because it is almost impossible to link the qualitative (an action, a sharing, a content) to the quantitative, to “hard” data. To demonstrate that a tangible improvement in performance through a quantified indicator is due to behavior. To establish that a new use effectively impacts the performance of a process. Even checking the unexpected impact that the dissemination of a subject or a sentiment may have on the performance of the organization. So we assume that a behavior will have an impact on a quantified indicator and even if on paper the causality is obvious we are nonetheless unable to prove it and even less to measure its extent.

We can even push the logic further in HR matters by coupling sentiment analysis and business indicators. The best way to justify and manage “well-being at work” programs or to identify areas of concern that have a direct, positive or negative business impact.

Measuring the performance of so-called social projects and tools, of social business requires finding correlation patterns between behavior and business indicators. Point.

The Chief Data Officer: the only one who can measure what matters

Who is able to do this today? Who has the tools and the elements to achieve this? The Chief Data Officer of course. Here then emerges a still unknown dimension of his role which can make him the new Mr. ROI of the company, the one who is able to measure the reality of things and allows to make decisions based on facts and not only on intuitions. .

And maybe tomorrow, when we discuss these subjects, we will stop saying “we estimate that”, “we believe that” but we will say: “we have measured that”.

And remember Deming:

“In God we trust. All others must bring data »

Bertrand Duperrin is Consulting Director at Nextmodernity, a pioneering firm in the field of business transformation and management through Social Business and the use of social technologies. He regularly deals with social media news on his blog.


Photo credit: Shutterstock, millions of photos, illustrations, vectors and videos