A great start for CDOs at World of Watson

Content Marketing Manager, IBM Analytics Platform, IBM

IBM Insight at World of Watson 2016 is off to a great start, particularly for the chief data officers (CDOs) in attendance. Because I’ve had the good fortune to sit in on many insightful sessions already—and to take part in many of the networking opportunities offered at this year’s event—I wanted to share the latest from the conference.

Conquering the digital world

Monday kicked off with a bang as Derek Schoettle, general manager of IBM’s analytics platform services, led the session “Conquer the Digital World with a Cloud Analytics Platform.” Derek spoke about removing silos, enabling self-service analytics, innovating with open source and driving intelligence more quickly than ever before. In particular, I was struck by his description of how different user groups, such as business analysts, data scientists, data engineers and app developers, can collaborate together to make data simple and accessible for all. I was also encouraged to hear that information integration and governance remain underpinnings of IBM analytics platforms.

After that, I sat in on a session delivered by Rebecca Shockley, the big data and analytics global research leader for IBM’s Institute for Business Value, and by Cortnie Abercrombie, global emerging roles leader at IBM. They reported findings from their “Chief Data Officer Playbook” study, which aims to set CDOs up for success in their role. Among the highlights were a discussion of the rapid growth of the CDO profession as well as an examination of the amorphous nature of CDO responsibilities. Even if you weren’t able to attend this session, be sure to take a look at their full study—its findings are fascinating. and innovating with data

In the afternoon, I watched a session on building and innovating with data delivered by Rob Thomas, vice president of product development for IBM Analytics. Topics ranged from the cloud to open source and collaboration. Some of Rob’s most interesting information had to do with the transition to public cloud, which he described as a journey rather than an event—making hybrid clouds a useful tool indeed. To drive his point home, Rob took Tabtor as a case study showing the benefits of such an approach—in Tabtor’s case, for education. Wrapping up, he predicted that the builders of the future will embrace open-source, fit-for-purpose solutions; data diversity; hybrid cloud and intelligent applications.

I capped off the day by attending two spectacular CDO-specific events. When I did, I heard Dr. Inderpal Bhandari, IBM’s global chief data officer, and Glenda Crisp, the chief data officer for TD Bank, describe the keys to achieving success as a CDO or a senior data leader. In his presentation, Inderpal listed the four main attributes of cognitive systems: education, expression, expertise and evolution. He also reiterated that an understanding of company monetization strategy should inform a CDO’s decisions about data. Glenda, moreover, considering the balancing act between innovation and governance, didn’t see the process as an “either/or” decision. Rather, she said, “I don’t think you can have true democratization of data if you don’t have standards in place.”

After the quick question-and-answer period that closed the session, I followed Inderpal, Glenda and many other CDOs over to the CDO reception for the opportunity to trade advice and stories while reconnecting with familiar faces and networking with new ones. The atmosphere was congenial, and I was glad to have the chance to meet a wide range of people offering interesting perspectives on their wide-ranging work.

With a stimulating Monday behind me and a jam-packed Tuesday on the horizon, I can’t wait to see what the rest of the conference brings. Stay tuned: I’ll report back as soon as I have more to share. Until then, keep up with the conference on Twitter by following #ibmwow and #ibmcdo—and be sure to watch the major sessions of IBM Insight at World of Watson 2016 on IBMGO.