The Chief Data Officer: A Key Advocate for Information Governance

Robin Woolen, The Records Guru®

The role of Chief Data Officer (CDO) is becoming more prevalent in many organizations as their strategic goals evolve to meet the challenges of the fast-growing, data-centered economy.

What Does the CDO Do?

While the specific duties vary, the Chief Data Officer is usually responsible for the organization’s data security and, more importantly, data quality throughout the information life cycle. This is so that the organization realizes the maximum business value from their information assets. In some organizations, the Chief Information Security Officer handles the data security side of the business, which allows the CDO to more closely manage the finer points of data quality and usage.

For the information governance professional, the CDO will serve as a key advocate for their program and will be someone they work with on a daily basis. The CDO also works closely with the organization’s senior and frontline leaders to create a strategic goal around data usage and is responsible for shepherding the development of the policies and procedures to support those goals. This is where the information governance professionals can assist.

An Advocate for Data Quality and Policy

Data management and quality is a fundamental records management process that supports the elimination of redundant, obsolete and transitory (ROT) data that costs an organization time and money with increased storage cost and legal risk. Getting rid of ROT is the easiest thing any organization can do to improve its data quality and efficiency simply because the less ROT you have, the faster you can find what you need. Elimination of ROT is generally the first step in any program because it is a “quick win” that shows business value with bottom-line results.

In today’s data-centric business world, data quality is increasingly seen as affecting an organization’s bottom line, which makes it easier for the CDO to demonstrate the ROI for an information governance program to senior level management. This quick demonstration of the business value of information assets allows the CDO and, by extension, the information governance program, to move on to other key areas where value is realized over the longer term.

One such area is developing data protection policies and procedures around information assets that are value-based. Such policies and procedures should be proportional to the value of the given asset and the exposure to risk it faces. This heightens awareness across the organization of the data’s value they use so that budgets can be determined in a more informed way.

Your Program Champion

More and more organizations, regardless of industry, are coming to the understanding that there are competitive advantages in the data they produce. They are creating the role of Chief Data Officer to respond to this “new” business asset. Information governance professionals play a critical in enabling the CDO to quickly develop the strategic plan the organization needs to realize real business value from its information assets. Information governance is a cooperative effort across all departments within an organization and the CDO is the key program champion that is needed to make that goal a reality.

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