The Top 4 Challenges Faced By Chief Data Officers

For a Chief Data Officer, a day at the office involves finding ways to use data that offers the most value to the company. Usually, this involves developing a Big Data approach — which can be especially difficult in companies that are already established. Change can be hard, so getting employees and leadership on board is also part of the challenge. CDOs may have to review data management procedures, collection methods and analysis.

This position is not without its difficult tasks. Between managing data, matching the unique needs of industries like defense intelligence, and overcoming a change in attitudes, CDOs often have their work cut out for them. In this guide, we’ll discuss a few of the most common problems that CDOs deal with in their line of work.

What Is the Big Deal About Big Data?

Big Data has become an incredibly popular approach for businesses of all sizes and in every industry — and for good reason. Big Data surpasses simple analytics and uses information in a more comprehensive way. It focuses on capturing data from every source and pulling it all into one place. What this offers a company is unparalleled speed and efficiency, as well as added accuracy.

When you opt for Big Data, staff within the company can make decisions quickly and easily. Big Data can reduce costs by making processes more efficient. There’s less manual entry and gathering of data, and often the costs of cloud computing are cheaper. Typically, a Big Data approach stores information where everyone can access it via a cloud system.

New data sources bring in new information and can help leaders make more informed decisions across the board. Whether you’re collecting data from machines, social media accounts or employee login times, Big Data systems can benefit your company. Big Data is becoming less of an optional “edge” and more of a necessity for modernization and efficient business procedures. Many times, CDOs are the ones in charge of this endeavor.

However, CDOs also encounter a significant number of challenges, including:

Challenge #1: Breaking Down Data Silos

One of the best ways to improve data collection is to eliminate pesky data silos. A data silo occurs when different areas of a business keep data separate from each other and don’t share or collaborate. When this happens, information can be hard to obtain. You have to spend time gathering it from different departments and verify its accuracy. 

Aside from the time it takes to get this data in the first place, it may also be outdated or duplicated, which wastes company time and money. Silos can also impede trust and transparency throughout a company. Overall, data silos reduce efficiency and impede a comprehensive view of your data.

Prioritize the removal of data silos. Doing this all at once may not be feasible, so consider taking it in steps. Consolidate your information into one system and cultivate the value of a complete collection of data.

Challenge #2: Overcoming Operational Reporting

It is not uncommon for CDOs to report to other C-suite leaders, and part of that role is to create operational reports. Unfortunately, these can put a wrench in some of your more big-picture goals if you spend too much time on them. By streamlining the process, you can free yourself up for more important work. 

Eliminating data silos can help you keep operational reports accurate and make collection easier. Data management programs can also help you streamline the process and minimize the amount of time you spend gathering data for these recurring reports.

Challenge #3: Keeping Your Eye on the Prize

CDOs might be asked to do any number of tasks, so it can be easy to lose sight of what they are there to do in the first place. Generating data-driven business results is the primary task of the CDO, and you’ll need the support of leadership and company culture to really perform that task to its fullest potential.

People don’t usually like change, and if you’re trying to bring data optimization to an older business that’s worked without it for years, you may encounter a certain amount of resistance. Remember the importance of cultivating an atmosphere of transparency and interdepartmental data sharing. Keep an eye out for competitive or isolated people or departments, as they can easily impede your progress.

You may need an authoritative voice to get past some of the pushback, and a healthy relationship with IT doesn’t hurt either. Your work naturally upends their existing processes and the standard operating procedures they’ve followed for years, so it can help if they understand the value of data and why you are changing the way things are done. 

Remember the big picture as you work past this resistance. As a CDO, you drive positive change within a company. While working with legacy employees may be difficult, the data-driven results you gather from a comprehensive approach will be well worth it.

Challenge #4: Making Big Data Work in the DoD

Businesses within the Department of Defense have unique needs that can make Big Data a particularly useful part of the workflow. Using data to back your decisions is nothing new, but in these industries, it’s more important than ever. The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act requires CDOs in government agencies to do so, as well as work on efforts of modernization. Big Data helps in this endeavor and helps them stay ahead of current technological trends.

In many instances, the task is less about gathering data and more about identifying which data is meaningful for your specific needs. Once you do this, you can make more impactful changes and focus on significant areas, like predictive analytics. Collection methods can also have a significant influence on your results. Human error, for instance, is always a concern. 

By implementing sensors and other automated forms of data collection, you can make your system more efficient and accurate. You eliminate the time it takes for humans to input the data, as well as the potential for them to make a mistake. Plus, this kind of approach contributes to the modernization of your business, something that many parts of the DoD are constantly working on.

Choose DataSync for a Career in Big Data

Big Data is opening up a world of information analysis to many businesses of all industries. It can help them lower costs, raise efficiencies and improve results. If you’re interested in a career with Big Data, DataSync Technologies can offer you the chance to help your government stay ahead of the curve. 

We work with leading organizations in the defense and intelligence communities and offer rewarding careers to those who want to contribute to the safety of citizens across the country.

DataSync is a veteran-owned data science service provider that has been one of Washington D.C.’s Best Places to Work for three years in a row. We’d love to see how you can put Big Data to work. Take a look at our current openings and, if you think you’d be a good fit at DataSync, apply today.