Pittsburgh Technical Council

The CIO vs. The CDO

The CIO vs. The CDO

Article Published: March 5, 2015


SeinerBy Robert S. Seiner, Contributing Writer, @RSeiner

Data and information lie at the heart of everything we do. In many ways that is a positive thing. In many ways it can be negative thing too. Let me explain. It’s all in the data.

Highmark, UPMC and AHN rely on their data. Their data includes patient, claims and doctor and hospital data, but we are all impacted more by the in-and-out of network data, policy and coverage data. Data is their business. It’s all in the data.

The University of Pittsburgh, CMU and Duquesne rely on their data. Their data includes student, academic and financial data, but we are all impacted more by the tuition, scholarship and gainful employment data. Data is their business. It’s all in the data.

Manufacturing companies like USS, PPG and Alcoa rely on their data. Their data includes customer, product, service and cost data, but we are all impacted more by the employment, stock price and production data. Data is their business too. It’s all in the data.

The same holds true for banks, service and retail companies, government, start-ups, established companies, for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Data defines their business and it’s all in their data too. As I said in the opening paragraph, data lies at the heart of everything we do. And this only scratches the surface of YOUR relationship to data.

This issue of TEQ names the winner of the PTC CIO of the Year Award and their closest competitors. For laypeople, the CIO is the Chief Information Officer—a role, in the winner’s case, associated with the innovative management of information and technology at the C-Level of their organization. The power under the CIO’s guidance is referred to as Information Technology (or IT to most people), although the CIOs I know spend more of their time focused on security, delivering systems and supplying value to the business through the combined use of… information and technology. Data is not always included as a variable in the CIO’s equation equal to the others. Thus the introduction, several years back, of the need for the business role of Chief Data Officer or CDO. It’s all in the data.

Data leads to positive and negative outcomes for all organizations. Positive when you consider that it can result in effective decision-making, customer intimacy and steering an organization in a positive direction. Negative when it comes to building a fortress around the data to serve, protect and gain value from our customers, employees and secrets. Data has an impact in both of these ways—repeatedly and without fail. The Chief Data Officer typically has responsibility for all aspects of only one thing … the business data. This is different than the responsibilities of the CIO. Many organizations are recognizing this fact and jumping on the CDO bandwagon.

The job description of the CDO often reads like a “who, what, where, and how” of the business of managing the organization’s data. Data Governance, by my definition—“the execution and enforcement of authority over the data,” has become the most valuable tool of the CDO. Organizations in Pittsburgh have lagged behind the times when hiring CDOs and addressing data governance as a discipline. If you agree that data is a highly valued enterprise asset, you should be (if you are not already) looking at hiring a CDO or some equivalent position. At a minimum you should have somebody accountable for governing your business data.

It is about time organizations in Pittsburgh manage their business data as a valued enterprise asset. That includes the introduction of the Chief Data Officer position with significant measureable responsibility for determining what kinds of data and information the enterprise captures, protects, retains and uses and for what purposes. The related-sounding Chief Information Officer often does not hold that type of business accountability, but rather is responsible for the systems or pipeline through which data is passed and is stored. And we all know… It’s all in the data.

Bob Seiner, of Pittsburgh-based KIK Consulting & Educational Services (KIKConsulting.com), is a specialist in the fields of data governance and information resource management. Bob has worked for many notable organizations locally, nationally and globally in industries as varied as education, healthcare, finance, insurance, manufacturing, distribution and energy. Bob has a unique approach to assisting organizations to manage their data and information better. Bob can be reached for consultation or interview at rseiner@kikconsulting.com or 412.220.9643.

Copyright © 2015 – Robert S. Seiner

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