Align, Engage and Rave: 3 Things I Wish I Knew as Chief Data Officer

Align, Engage and Rave: 3 Things I Wish I Knew as Chief Data Officer

CDO Spotlight

Align everything to corporate strategy

I lead data and analytics at Cloudera. We’re called Cloudera Data Analytics (CDA). How very clever. Prior to forming the group, it was imperative to understand Cloudera’s corporate strategy: corporate objectives, product strategy, go-to-market strategy, key metrics and KPI. Our CDA charter must be aligned with corporate strategy, but shouldn’t everything we do be aligned?

Cloudera helps innovative organizations tackle transformational use cases and exact real-time insights. The analytics CDA delivers must enable the fulfillment of that mission, so we ask: will the requested data product drive customer success, achieve key efficiencies, or improve competitive advantage? If so, we absorb the request, knowing we are aligned with corporate objectives and contributing to enterprise success. If not, we respectfully reject the request.

For anyone operating from Data Org Purgatory – town motto Obliged To Say Yes! – aligning everything you do to corporate strategy should lift the obligation, liposuction your backlog, liberate your capacity to drive your strategic initiatives, and enable you to…

Sustain engagement of key stakeholders and senior executives

CDA envisions a maturity level where we set targets for the revenue that we influence or generate for Cloudera. How very ambitious, right? We are already held accountable for quantifiable efficiency gains that our data products achieve in the business. But despite our ambitions, we are still a humble shared services organization (SSO). 

I’m seldom axiomatic, but I believe immutably that in high-functioning companies, shared services organizations are doomed to fail without sustained engagement from senior executives and key stakeholders

Engagement is elemental to stay connected to corporate strategy, to ingest use cases that drive the highest business value, and thereby to remain enterprise-essential as a function. 

Without engagement, stakeholders can become disinterested and doubt the SSO’s value proposition, and those are the front and rear turn signals into irrelevance and disbandment. 

To engage key stakeholders:

1- Actively, continually uncover perceived and actual needs.

Effective analytics organizations pursue high value use cases instead of waiting or wishing for them. 

  • Ask stakeholders: What questions can’t you answer? What is it that your teams cannot do today? What keeps you up at night? 
  • Interview managers and individual contributors. 
  • Ruminate on the corporate objectives yourself: what data products would help business units achieve them?Deliver, deliver, deliver

2- Deliver on commitments consistently; become indispensable to the business.

3- Meet with them frequently.

Don’t take no for an answer. You need to meet. Meeting will provide you a forum to…

Materialize awe and rave about it

To materialize awe, obtain those high-value use cases, deliver on them, then shout your success. How very 1-2-3. Admittedly anecdotal and generalized, I’ve noticed that CDOs are most often comfortable with delivery. Drumming up business requires some salesy soft skills. Touting success requires storytelling talent and some CDOs might find that unnatural. They shouldn’t.

Storytelling is so very important, and you’re already writing them. Your strategic plan is an outline for a compelling story you want to tell through your data functions. That informs your operating plan, a compelling work of fiction which unfurls according to the timeline in your roadmap. Your accomplishments are the materialization of your story, delivered on stage by your data functions. You’ve ideated the story. You’ve written the story. You’ve acted out the story. Have you raved about it? 

Your executive check-ins are the reviews of your play, and here’s the beauty: you get to be the critic! Tell the story as it unfolds. Illustrate how well-receiving your audience has been (your users). Set a hook for the riveting plot points ahead. I get so excited to demonstrate our value prop that some check-ins feel like those queasy moments in job interviews where you’re not sure you’re coming across as prideful (the good kind) or braggadocious. Brag away.

Because excitement is contagious. It inspires engagement. I’ve even observed this paradox: a less engaged stakeholder stares at me like Napoleon Dynamite through a check-in, counts the seconds to the end of the session like Good Will Hunting, and then, months later, defends our value prop to peers: “I hear they’re doing great work.” Hypnotic suggestion. I now carry a pocket watch to every check-in.

And now I know.

Attending the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit in Orlando, live or virtually?  #GartnerDA

Don’t miss Shayde Christian as part of the panel discussion, “Data Mesh or Data Mess? Best Practices for Data Products” #HybridCloud with Sanjeev Mohan (Analyst, SanjoMo) and Luke Roquet (Cloudera) on Tuesday, March 21, 11a  in Swan Ballroom 4, WDW Swan Hotel. Hear a lively discussion about modern data architectures, with a CDO’s perspective. And meet us over booth #1327.

Shayde Christian
Chief Data & Analytics Officer
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by Veronique LaFontaine on

Great blog Shayde!

by Mudassar Hameed on

Thanks for sharing this informative article. Good business strategy always boost your sale. Get the tremendous business ideas that help you in business growth.

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