New Face on the Corporate Board – The CDO

Posted by Karthikeyan Sankaran
May 30th, 2007

People who read the last post on this blog “What is a Data Warehouse” would probably accept my view that for an organization to get better at anything worthwhile, “data” is everything. If you accept this notion, I propose the immediate creation of a new ‘C’ level organizational position – Chief Data Officer (CDO).

To me, the CDO is a more important position than the more glamorous CIO (Chief Information Officer). After all, the input to any strategic information is raw data and many organizations don’t have a comprehensive focus on data that is present within its boundaries. It is important to realize that ‘Good data is a source of competitive advantage and not just any data’.

Let us for a moment assume that there is an organization with the CDO structure in place. The next question is – How should the CDO go about doing the job, given the massive amount of data generated by organizations? – Answer: Divide & Conquer!

The 6 mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive (MECE) types of organizational data are given below:

Type 1) Transaction Structure Data – Business processes are a series of never-ending transactions. All these transactions has a context and this is defined by this category of data. Examples are: Products, Customers, Departments etc.

Type 2) Transaction Activity Data – These are the transactions themselves. Ex: Purchase Order data, Sales Invoice data etc.

Type 3) Enterprise Structure Data – These data elements are unique to each organization and the inter-relationships between data elements are important. Ex: Chart of Accounts, Org Structure, Bill of materials, etc.

Type 4) Reference Data – Set of codes, typically name-value pairs that drives business rules. Ex: Region Codes, Customer Types etc.

Type 5) Metadata – Data that defines other data thus making the collection a self-defining entity

Type 6) Audit Data – With so much focus on regulatory compliance, this is the data that tracks all the operations within a data store

Type 1,3 & 4 together is defined as Master Data and its management is the subject of numerous BI articles and white papers.

Our CDO would do well to understand all these 6 types of data in the organization and have some specific strategies to improve their quality. This & many other data management strategies will be the focus of this blog – Please do keep reading.

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