Friday Book Review! Be the Business by Martha Heller

heller-book-excerpt2-100684008-primary.idgeThe information-age tidal wave has submerged our companies and organizations. If the IT department was once contained in a room where brainy technologists worked their magic, today every office, every desk, every employee and manager — and every customer! — is involved with the company’s information technology.

In many ways, this new digital era (“new” relative to eras, of course) has not changed the core mandate of most executives and managers. What has changed is how that mandate is fulfilled. At the C-suite level, for example, the CEO must still guide strategy, instill a culture, lead his or her top management team, and take responsibility for the successes and failures of the company. The Chief Marketing Officer is responsible for the successful positioning of the company’s products in the marketplace. The Chief Operating Officer (COO) is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company.

The role of the Chief Information Officer, however, has been dramatically altered. In her thoughtful new book, Be the Business: CIOs in the New Era of IT, Martha Heller explains the challenges and opportunities that CIOs must face and embrace. The book’s title — as spare and relevant as her chapters — tells the story: CIOs must “be the business.” Information technology is in every nook and cranny of a business. Information technology is back office and front office and connecting the two. Information technology is about digital marketing but also — as one CIO tells Heller — about turning operations into “algorithms.”

CDOs Are Not the Solution

Today’s organizations recognize the omnipresence of information technology in every department and function. One response, according to Heller, is the creation of a new Chief Digital Officer (CDO) function — in essence, relegating the CIO to the operational side of information technology as the fancy new CDO occupies himself or herself with the strategic implications of the digital age. Unfortunately, CDOs are often glorified CMOs — they understand the digital contribution to marketing but do not have a complete end-to-end grasp of the organization…(to continue reading this review, click here).

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12 Qualities Your Next Chief Data Officer Should Have (continued)

12 Qualities Your Next Chief Data Officer Should Have Infographic

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7. Be Technology Savvy and Understand the Latest Trends

A CDO deals with both the IT as the business aspects of Big Data and should, therefore, understand the concepts of data mining, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data modeling and data governance. Not only from the business perspective, but also from the IT perspective. In addition, the world of big data changes rapidly and new big data trends constantly emerge; he or she should, therefore, remain up-to-date with the latest trends.

8. Be Open to Input from Others

The CDO should not be the only one calling the shots. Of course, when a decision needs to be made on important, company-wide projects, the CDO should, together with the rest of the board, make the decision. However, a CDO should also empower his/her employees to make their own decisions within their projects. The Chief Data Officer should give control to his or her staff and should avoid micro-managing them.

9. Be Customer-Driven

When dealing with Big Data, organizations should take the customer into account in everything they do. This human-centered approach is vital. When projects are developed based on the actual needs of the customer, the chances of success are a lot higher. In addition, when developing big data projects, the CDO should ensure that the customer does not become the victim in terms of lost privacy and should ensure that the customer’s privacy is protected.

10. Be Security Driven

My vision is that all organizations will be hacked and if you are not being hacked, you are simply not important enough as an organization. Therefore, a CDO should have a strong security focus. As a CDO, the starting point should be that you will be hacked and if that’s the case, how do you prevent that hackers get access to any personal data or important company data or systems. A CDO should enforce the right security processes, implement the right encryption measures and use right IT Operations Analytics tools to detect attacks in real-time.

11. Be a Visionary Leader

A CDO needs to have a vision where he/she wants to bring the company to in the next 5-10 years. As mentioned Big Data projects take a lot of time to be completed and a strong and clear vision will help to complete the projects in the right way.

12. Be a Change Manager

Big data requires a culture change within the organization. Moving to a data-driven and information-centric culture is difficult as people have a natural inertia to change. Therefore, the Chief Data Officer should be a strong change manager, who is capable of changing people’s behavior within the company.

*This article was featured in our Leadership Newsletter series. To sign up for this free publication, click here.