Data Diaries: Are data leaders today’s top recruits?

We have more data than ever before, yet know less and less about the data we have. So why do I get excited about data leaders – chief data officers, chief analytics officers, data scientists, and analytics executives acting in these roles?

First, I like leaders…the decision makers, rogue visionaries, business-savvy shot callers that inspire and deliver results. I also love analytics…the beauty of finding patterns in data, unleashing new insights, and acting boldly with data by your side.

Bring leaders and analytics together to talk data leadership? A data leader with the mindset of an analyst, technical skills of a data scientist, and business know-how of a C-suite leader to make sense of all this data? Now we’re talking a favorite topic. Gartner predicts that by the end of this year, 2015, 25 percent of large organizations will appoint a CDO.

Data leaders are today’s business and IT visionaries. Want to know who your customers are? What they want and what they will want before they act? What about data sources? How to tie tweets to likelihood to purchase? How a weather forecast might impact sales, energy consumption, product supply? Data leaders have you covered. They’re comfortable trudging through massive data sets and streams of external data sources, familiar with legacy systems and integration challenges, and well versed in the enterprise’s business problems and new opportunities.

Data leaders are also comfortable operating in uncertainty. There are today’s top of mind market trends: continued explosion of available data; increasingly global business value chains; digital transformation; fierce competition for customer and employee engagement; the Internet of Things; cognitive computing to assist with smart decision-making; cloud-based analytics solutions; empowered line of business buyers. Through it all, data leaders press forward.

And there will be tomorrow’s market challenges and opportunities. Data leaders tackle it all. In the second of a three part series on data leaders, Teaching organizations to fish in a data-rich future, the IBM Center for Applied Insights found data leaders that make data a priority, develop skills from within, and use data in new ways continue to deliver important wins. The study showcases a research institute that drove the success rate of clinical research up 30 percent, and a manufacturing company that generated an extra $2 million in revenue through newfound tools that predict customer needs.

Data did that.


What’s next for data leaders? I predict the same rigorous focus that’s been brought to data governance, regulatory and compliance, and data aggregation and access will continue as organizations turn to new data sources, drive better insight and increase investments in analytics solutions. And we’ll be along for the journey. Tune in this fall when we launch our final study in the CDO trilogy. With that study, we’ll share how data leaders are integrating data science capabilities and using them as a source for competitive advantage. Leaders + analytics – that’s a combination I get excited about.

And data did that too.

A close-up on Caitlin:

Caitlin Halferty brings ten years of industry experience to her current role in Analyst Relations at IBM. In this role, she is focused on IBM’s analytics business, including Insights as a Service, and partnerships with The Weather Company and Twitter. She has published thought leadership on diverse topics such as shifts in outsourcing, innovation in Africa, and Chief Data Officers. Previously, Caitlin consulted with clients on four continents and led cross-functional global IT and business teams to deliver organizational change, infrastructure systems, and enterprise-wide technology platforms. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Fun fact: Caitlin has traveled across six continents, from ice caving in Iceland, to game spotting in Africa, to hiking the Great Wall of China.

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