Another informative day speaking with CDOs at IBM Insight at World of Watson 2016

Content Marketing Manager, IBM Analytics Platform, IBM

For me, Tuesday, 25 October 2016, at IBM Insight at World of Watson 2016 was divided into two distinct halves. The beginning of the day featured a pair of great keynotes while the afternoon presented the opportunity to engage in and witness discussions with data professionals over the course of three CDO-related cognitive concourse theater sessions. Each presented a great opportunity to learn more about the challenges and opportunities that exist, and I’ll share some of what I was able to glean here.

Rapid acceleration

During the keynotes a few important things stood out. Foremost was Thomas Friedman’s assertion that we are seeing rapid acceleration in three different areas that are all affecting one another: the market, Mother Nature and Moore’s law. Moreover, Friedman noted that these three accelerations are reshaping the world in five realms: the workplace, ethics, community, politics and geopolitics.

In the same session, Dr. John Kelly III, senior vice president of cognitive solutions and research at IBM, looked ahead to where IBM Watson might go in the years to come. He noted that in 10 to 15 more years, he believes Watson will be able to predict the future in some areas.

Powerful collaboration second keynote followed up on these themes in a presentation about a data platform that allows data professionals in different roles to collaborate using unique tools and harnessing the power of cloud computing to accelerate operationalizing data and gaining insight. It also uses open source resources with a set of ecosystem partners who can share ideas and help build new solutions. Check out a replay of both keynotes.

The CDO-related cognitive concourse theater sessions started with a discussion by Paula Wiles Sigmon, program director for IBM Analytics platform marketing at IBM, and Jennifer McGinn, program director for IBM Analytics portfolio marketing at IBM. Together, they covered CIO and CDO interaction, indicating that CDOs and CIOs share a complex relationship in which they can both report to the CEO, the CDO reports to the CIO, or the CDO reports to another C-suite executive. Each organizational setup occurs about one-third of the time. However, the rate of success appeared to depend not as much on the structure and more on how well the two positions collaborated with each other.

The second theater session featured three IBM executives: Charlie Hill, Dr. Somesh Nigam and Ranjan Sinha answering audience questions about the IBM Global Chief Data Office. Among the topics discussed were creating a data culture and complying with upcoming data privacy regulations. One particularly interesting question asked about top-down rather than bottom-up efforts in this space, which the panel seemed to agree was important and more likely as legislation such as that in Europe comes to the forefront.

Aligning organizational data strategy

The final theater session focused on the well-suited CDO organization. It was presented by Rebecca Shockley, coauthor of “The Chief Data Officer playbook,” IBM Cognitive and Analytics executive report, IBM Institute for Business Value, and Caitlin Lepech, an engagement executive in the IBM Global Chief Data Office. Again, the reporting structure for the CDO was mentioned, much like in the first session. However, additional information was provided on appropriate sizing of the office, which could be hundreds of employees or very few employees depending on the goals the organization has for the CDO. Moreover, the discussion stressed the importance of aligning the data strategy—and therefore the CDO office—to deliver on the company’s monetization goal.

The Tuesday sessions at IBM Insight at World of Watson 2016 proved to be a fantastic and enlightening experience. I can’t wait to see how some of these ideas play out on a global scale during the upcoming months and years. Until then, be sure to keep up with all of the latest information by searching for #ibmcdo and #ibmwow. 

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