CDOs: Don't Curb Your Enthusiasm

Effective communication and marketing are essential tools for carrying out data initiatives


Data governance initiatives hinge on marketing and internal communications, regardless of how much data management experience is behind them

Is data governance actually a marketing problem?

This question came to mind at our European Financial Information Summit (EFIS) in London this week, where I kept hearing a mantra about better alignment of communication with different departments internally within firms being critical to effective data governance.

Chris Bannocks, newly installed as chief data management officer at ING Bank, defines data governance as a business problem, at least in part—not only an operational issue. Where marketing comes into it, in his view, is that any data governance plan being made has to be communicated to the business side of a firm, to get them to understand it and be involved in it.

Roberto Maranca, managing director of enterprise data at GE Capital in London, was tasked with reorganizing data operations geographically in Europe and Asia under the umbrella of the firm's US data group. He has capitalized on a social network of staff within his firm to "broadcast a message," as he says, about a central data management framework being deployed to support GE Capital's strategy. This is an example of thinking about marketing to make a data governance plan more effective for one's firm.

If you don't have a centralized data governance structure—as many of the data management executives who spoke on panels at EFIS say they strive to get or maintain—communicating and marketing becomes all the more necessary.

Data governance plans, by themselves, are "not necessarily a helpful achievement," says John Parkinson, UK head of data governance at Capgemini Financial Services. "The key to communication and bringing stakeholders along with you is making it clear to them that data governance is an enabler to make their jobs easier—and improve their ability to manipulate data and get value out of it."

Inherently, chief data officers (CDOs) are going to be enthusiastic about data governance plans. The trick is spreading that enthusiasm to colleagues who are vital to the success of their plans.

"There's nothing without implementation and adoption by people," says Maranca. "That's something I can't always control but I need to be the bearer of the message for people to adopt it."

CDOs are people too, and aren't all going to be cut from the same cloth. Some may be more steeped in data management and operations, while others may come into their roles with greater aptitude at lobbying colleagues on the business side. Either way, they must stay sharp at marketing their plans or learn to do so in a hurry.

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