The need to unlock the value of data while maintaining security and compliance is one of the biggest challenges facing FS firms. Data specialist Bala Kuchibhotla gives his advice on how Data Officers can strike this delicate balance.
The role of Data Officer is an interesting one. It sits at the crossroads of Chief Analytics and Chief Information Officer. Initially the role of a Data Officer existed to protect data and work within risk management and compliance. The whole idea was to make sure data was available and companies didn’t get penalised for failures.
However, with the rise of digital disruptors and the introduction of new technologies like blockchain and peer-to-peer payments, the role has evolved from being a data marshal to becoming a strategist that allows firms to create a competitive advantage and unlock the value from the data they hold.
A Data Officer needs to investigate and make sure the data fits within the existing technology and avoid friction for the system of tomorrow.
To bridge this, they need to be at the convergence of tech – acting as a moderator and innovator.
When you think about protecting data and unlocking its value at the same time, this sounds like they are at opposite ends. That is true. One has to balance the other, and the role of the Data Officer needs to evolve to deal with that.
Why Data is More Like Water Than Oil
If we turn to the critical foundations of a successful data management strategy, I can offer an analogy.
Lots of time we read about data as the new oil, which needs to go through refinements to get it processed. I agree with that, but I would like to provide a different take.
To me, data is water. Water is essential for people. Data is like a river – with all kinds of information flowing into it. You need to harness the power of the rivers. You need to build a dam to bring in protection, so you don’t get flooded.
Secondly, you make use of dams for a multitude of purposes. For example, irrigation or hydro power.
If you look at the word ‘dam’, then I see it as ‘Data Access Management’. You essentially need to do the same thing for data as you do with water:
- Harness it.
- Protect it.
- Channel it.
- Unlock its value.
The of a Data Officer is like that of a chief engineer, looking after big dams and rivers. Minus the hard hat of course.
To expand on this theme, you need to channel the data in the right way. It needs to be fed into controlled environments like a canal or river where the flow can be predicted and its power unlocked.
At the same time, the data needs to be provisioned and constantly upgraded for security. For example, you will need a database accessible to teams in quality assurance, development and analytics. These teams will need the sanitised data.
You need an access management strategy at your fingertips, but also one that is controlled, and accessible to certain people.
This is a fine and delicate art to strike a balance when you are doing two opposite things.
A Collaborative Approach
It’s clear a successful Data Officer needs to forge close working partnerships with various departments across a FS business. We need to consider how a Data officer can become a trusted partner to risk management and regulatory compliance teams – and other departments such as sales and marketing and product development.
Generally, the Data Officer role is a recent development across most companies. Previously, this kind of intense and technological development has been done by the Chief Analytics Officer or Chief Information Officer.
When we examine the role of Data Officer there is a danger that it can cause friction as traditionally some of its responsibilities were done by other roles.
Therefore, to overcome these potential issues Data Officers have to work carefully with the incumbents in companies. This means they will need to empathize with them and provide value. Data Officers needs to prove their worth to their company.
Bala Kuchibhotla is VP & GM, ERA and Business Critical Apps at Data and Cloud Transformation specialist, Nutanix.