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Author's profile photo Justin Litz

Top of Mind Concerns for the CDO: Short & Long-Term Implications of COVID-19 on Enterprise Data Management

As a Chief Data Officer (CDO), monitoring change and quickly adapting strategies and capabilities to meet the business needs is vitally important.  Ensuring the data team is agile and nimbly focused to deliver the data and data management capabilities that matter most requires working with the respective business leaders to understand changes in business priorities. Based on any re-aligned priorities the CDO should identify new, alternate data or data management approaches while remaining vigilant in providing existing high-quality data to applications and analytics that deliver business outcomes.

Adaptive Insights and Predictive Analytics
As business priorities change or evolve so does the need to rapidly take business decisions. A key focus for any business should be to develop or evolve predictive analytics that help understand potential business outcomes and ‘what if’ scenarios. CDO’s can play a key role by actively engaging with the Data Science community to understand the models and take action by identifying new data or data management capabilities.  Analytics solutions that help improve supply chain, understand and reduce customer churn, identify customers and their propensity to buy, enable sales forecasting and enable insights specific to customer sentiment are just a few examples of such predictive analytics and are vitally critical to enable business teams to react in an meaningful way.

Additionally identifying and providing new data coupled with existing data could help unlock adaptive insights.  Understanding customers that are most at risk due to complete shut down or customer requiring additional support because of spike in demand or those requiring additional financial assistance are key aspects any business need to understand. This information provides business teams the insight required to adjust and pivot to develop and provide solutions and programs that support their customer’s changing requirements and demands in a meaningful way.

Data Quality
As companies have had to react with lighting speed to their response to the pandemic, CDO’s should immediately be assessing and addressing the data completeness and data quality of their employee, supplier and customer data needed in order to serve the business processes and the analytics that are necessary. CDO’s should also work with the company’s response team to determine new data that may be needed and acquire this data quickly and reliably from trusted sources.

In addition, CDO’s should re-evaluate the ‘data that matters’ most to the company, given these new demands, assess the data management capability gaps that data has today and use it to shape the data strategy of the future.

Providing high quality data with proper data management capability will allow data to flow to the necessary resources as well as build trust and confidence.  Analyzing and being able to take business decision in a timely fashion is more relevant than ever before.  Therefore, as a CDO making sure your team’s mission delivers at the speed and quality required by the business.

Part of the CDO’s mission is to ensure continuity of service and to have a contingency plan in place.  Today, most companies support models are outsourced with a “follow the sun model” support structure with individual teams distributed across the globe.  As a CDO, making sure teams are safe and able to do their job no matter the location is top priority. Additionally, ensuring teams are cross trained and there are backups identified and trained to support the most critical process.

Additionally, if not already done or in process, focusing on automating the creation and update of your most important data.  Leveraging API’s in concert with Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can pro-actively recommend updates based on business rules to implement intelligent data monitoring or using Robotic Process Automation to assist in the creation of data are other ways the Chief Data Office can help guarantee stable operations.

Driving operational efficiencies via Data Literacy
In today’s fast changing world, it is critical that a business understand, interpret and use data. Another part of the CDO’s mission must include establishing or evolving data literacy programs within the organization. Helping business teams harness their data assets and the responsiveness to adjust the collection and communication of this valuable resource is extremely relevant.

Ensure that business definitions, standards and location of these data assets can help improve internal organization efficiencies.  Focusing on prioritizing resource that support the most critical business outcomes, understanding the process and critical data required will help drive operational efficiency gains and reduce risk.

Manual efforts to consolidate data should be eliminated and replaced with strong data management capabilities that automate and deliver high quality data.  It is data at that foundation that fuels people’s ability to:

  • Understand employee’s needs
  • Identify alternative suppliers and how to optimize the supply chain
  • Acknowledge customers evolving and changing needs
  • Determine new solutions and services for those requiring assistance
  • Reduce risk associated with the changing environment.

Communicating clearly to employees, customer and stakeholders how the data is provided and visualized is a key aspect and part of communication plan.

Data Ethics/Privacy
Government responses to COVID-19, such as citizen tracking, face recognition, health profiles, hot spot apps, has certainly pushed the edge of citizen privacy vs public good debate.

What can CDO’s learn from these responses about how to guide their companies data ethics policies i.e. what is the line between public good and privacy, who/how to make those decisions,  unintended  future consequences of having this capability available , data quality required to guard against false positives, transparency of algorithms,

Experience Data, People & Communication
Not only is it important to understand the dynamic changes in the operational data and information required to run the business but more important is understanding the people or human aspect of your business.  Staying connected can be challenging as we virtualize our organization.  Understanding better these challenges our employees, customers and vendors face is critical and will have a significant impact on your company. Therefore, understanding their experiences given current stressors, collecting and providing relevant data to your business teams in order to aid the triage, adjust and making relevant business decision will have a lasting impacting. As a CDO, focus on acquisition of experience data can bring significant contribution to an organization and will help your people and organization through these challenging times by providing insight that matter most.

CDO’s that enable their business to adjust by delivering the right data, help minimize the company risk, develop opportunities and support the well-being of the individuals will see positive gains both from a personal and company perspective.

For more insight Listen to the recent LinkedIn Live session, where SAP data strategy experts will discuss the short and long-term impacts and implications that the current pandemic will have on your enterprise’s data and analytics strategy.

Top of Mind Concerns for the CDO: Short & Long-Term Implications of COVID-19 on Enterprise Data Management

Available from SAP Technology page on LinkedIn at

During the session, Justin Litz, Vice President of Analytics and Data Innovation at SAP, Tina Rosario, Head of Data Innovation and Chief Data Officer, Europe at SAP, and Maria Villar, Head of Enterprise Data Strategy and Transformation at SAP, discussed where they see the short and long-terms impacts COVID-19 on data management organization and strategy.

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