Rising Importance of Chief Data Officer in Tomorrow’s Successful Enterprises

blogRising Importance of Chief Data Officer in Tomorrow’s Successful Enterprises

Rising Importance of Chief Data Officer in Tomorrow’s Successful Enterprises

by Raj Das, Partner

For a long time, I have advocated for the critical need for tomorrow’s successful organizations to have competent and experienced Chief Data Officers with prominent seats at the board and executive tables. As data, further leveraged by Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Quantum Computing, is becoming the lifeblood of any organization’s overall strategy and execution, so is the role of the Chief Data Officer. CDOs can play a critical role in making data available throughout the entire organization in a transparent fashion. Data can then be turned into actionable information for the growth and success of such an organization. It’s amazing that only a quarter of Global 2,000 organizations have CDOs and even there they are not valued in the same realm as CFO, CRO, CTO, and CMO. European companies are definitely more advanced in this realm than their U.S. counterparts. Marrying data with the brand identity of an enterprise can result in significant revenue gains, margin expansion, and risk mitigation for any enterprise. Let’s analyze this further in the context of Mad Men vs. Math Men as further highlighted below. 

John Wanamaker is famously quoted as: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”  This conundrum is as true for brands today as it was in the early part of the last century when Mr. Wanamaker struggled with the right formula for marketing success. Don Draper had the creative formula for success; Larry Page had the mathematical formula for success. I intend to argue that Mr. Draper and Mr. Page together would make a mighty awesome match for successful brand formation and growth.

We live in a world of extremes today. Either you are right or wrong. Our “pure state of mind” does not welcome shades of grey. Some brands continue to embrace the Mad Men logic of unfettered and unbound creative endeavors. Others are hell-bent on 100% measurable direct response methodology. The funny part is that both types continue to thrive, grow, and succeed.

Perhaps it’s time that we realized that the world of brand marketing does not have to be so divisive. Brand awareness and value communication are as important as measured conversions and other direct calls to action.  TV, Radio, Facebook, and CNN can continue to be powerful mediums for spreading the awareness of a product or service to mass audiences. These same brands can also utilize Google, Email, and DRTV to elicit defined calls of action from their customers. I don’t understand why one is mutually exclusive with another. It’s not a zero-sum game!

I face this situation daily in our executive talent recruitment business. Our candidates are real flesh and blood individuals whose identities are not shaped by mathematical attributes noted on their CVs and LinkedIn profiles. We need to assess them through behavioral testing tools for the right cultural fit with our client organizations. We would fail miserably in our 100% retention record with our placed executives if we neglected to marry the Art and Science of candidate evaluation. Do you wonder why the “smartest” (as measured by quantifiable metrics) people are not necessarily captains of industries?  It’s the optimal combination of “Street Smart” and “Book Smart” that produces the world’s greatest leaders in any arena (politics, commerce, or art). 

We are very fortunate today to have incredible techniques to bridge the gap between the wasted and the productive halves of marketing dollars. Digital (Search, Social, Email, Mobile) ecosystems have given us great ways to spend our marketing dollars in a measurable way. But digital media does not eliminate the need for traditional awareness campaigns. Smart brands know how to tangle well with the ideal combination of Mad Men and Math Men.  They learn to optimize the mix, not debate incessantly about the power of one over another. 

I am not arguing that we don’t hold every marketing dollar totally accountable through an obsessive mindset around Return on Investment. Quite contrarily I think the mindset away from thinking in extremes and towards a holistic marketing paradigm will provide the highest Return on Investment for brands.  It’s high time that we accepted the Yin and the Yang of Marketing (Mad Men and Math Men) as co-existing peacefully and powerfully in our world!