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Pearls of Wisdom from a Chief Data Officer

by Andrew White  |  April 3, 2015  |  3 Comments

At the close of our 2015 Enterprise Information and Master Data Management summit yesterday Deb Logan hosted a “master mind” interview with Dr. Eugene Kolker, CDO, Seattle Children’s Hospital.  It was an awesome session and I just had to tweet as many of the pearls of wisdom Gene was kind enough to throw out into the crowd.  Here is my list – in no order of importance (they are all important!):

#GartnerMDM Talking CDO:

  • CDO might stand for Chief Diplomatic Officer!!! Get reconciling and collaborating.
  • Business acumen critical, more so than analytics, data or technology skills.
  • Who do you report to? Requires access, minimum dotted line, to CEO.
  • Recommend Wolf in CIO Clothing, Tina Nunno. Page 27.  (note I recommend this too – see my book review)
  • Measuring CDO success- did business value get realized, not did technology get installed on time.
  • Works with IT and CIO who provide fulfillment, solution and technology support.
  • CDO office owns, leads and defines (offensive) information and analytic strategy.
  • Defensive roles like chief risk officer handle this. Offensive work is CDO work.
  • CDO is a business role. Use ‘data stories’ to explore and explain with business the process change.


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Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a Distinguished Analyst and VP. His roles include Chief of Research and Content Lead for Data and Analytics. His main research focus is data and analytics strategy, platforms, and governance. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Pearls of Wisdom from a Chief Data Officer

  1. Sachin Jain says:

    Thank you for the pearls of wisdom. Looks like Seattle’s children hospital is already an Analytical competitor( “Competing on Analytics” by Davenport and Harris) and may be a good example of how data Analytics has pervaded each aspect of different business units in an organization. ( for e.g. they already have a CDO and not just CIO)

    I like all the points but two points really stand out to me
    1. understanding the business aspect- what interesting business problem are you trying to solve?
    2. Measuring the success by just not installation but did it really drive cost efficiency? Was it able to improve the CRM? Actual quantifiable metrics.

    Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to more insights from you.

    Sachin Jain

  2. Colin Gibson says:

    Great list. I agree that CDO’s should be aiming to be offensive (in the nicest possible way!). In reality though, given where complex organisations are starting from, many have no option other than to be defensive initially.


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