The other day I Googled, “the problem with a modern data architecture.” Of course, at Attivio we’re big evangelists for an MDA, but it’s always interesting to see what the contrarians have to say. There were over three million returns, but none on the first two pages said a word about problems. Lots of articles about how to develop an MDA or how to optimize an MDA or why you had to have an MDA. You get the picture.
Writing on the O’Reilly.com site back in August, CEO Jessie Anderson of Smoking Hand, a training company for Big Data technologies, commented on the overall complexity of Big Data, NoSQL technologies, and the distributed systems that deploy them.
Chief Data Officers have a lot of things on their plates. And one of those things is giving users freer access to the data they need. This is what we call "data democracy." Most CDOs like the idea of data democracy in theory. But in practice, the CDOs we talk to find that efforts to create a data democracy face at least four common barriers:
If you're a CDO, how would you describe your most important role: as gatekeeper or innovator? Or are you walking a tight rope between the two? Those questions figured prominently at the 10th annual MIT Chief Data Officer & Information Quality Symposium held in July.
At the end of May, the city of Boston named Andrew Therriault as its first CDO—chief data officer. Therriault, former Director of Data Science for the Democratic National Committee, comes with an impressive background. He has a B.A., M.A. and PhD. in politics from NYU. Before joining the DNC, he served as senior data scientist with Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, whose client list includes global companies, advocacy groups, and political organizations as well as former presidents. So, he's certainly qualified.
The Chief Data Officer has never been a more necessary role in the organization than it is today. Organizations capture and store more data than ever before, and it’s growing exponentially every year.
Not only is business data growing, but we are seeing new types of data continually entering the mix. Data is structured, unstructured and semi-structured. It’s stored in big data lakes, in business applications, in file shares, and other places across the organization. There’s so much data that even the CDO isn’t completely aware of what’s out there.
As the Big Data and analytics parade marches on, I often find that the people we're talking to in large enterprises carry the title chief data officer or CDO. Industry analysts back this up. A 2015 report by PwC found there were 100 CDOs in large enterprises in 2013, more than double the number in 2012. Gartner's most recent tally pegs the number at 950.