Look into the history of any C-suite title (CFO, CIO, CTO) and you’ll see an initial struggle for that office to prove its value. As wonderful as it would be for everyone to realize and appreciate the impact of your data organization, you have to market that value explicitly if you want it recognized.

When I market any data organization I’ve worked in, I try to do it by the numbers. One effort I’m particularly proud of in a previous role is a one-page annual report in the form of an infographic. We would send this report out to the businesses each year to make sure they understood the kind of impact we were having.

Successful data leaders have strong communication and storytelling skills. They’re able to articulate the impact they’re having to the business. They can find ways to show that they’re adding value. It's great that data quality is up over last year or more people can find it, but at the end of the day if the consumers of it aren't doing their day job differently, what's the point? (And more personally, why would they need a CDO?) 

So never forget to market your achievements as a data organization. Use your story-telling skills to tell your own story. That way no one takes your group for granted.

An example of a one-page “annual report” for a data organization:

Data organization annual report


Heidi Lanford is the Chief Data Officer for Fitch Group and is responsible for transforming the way Fitch leverages data across the enterprise to enhance current products and internal applications, and exploit the value of data for new product development. She joined Fitch from Red Hat (IBM), where she was Vice President of Enterprise Data & Analytics, and has held executive-level positions with Avaya and WPP. Heidi is a board member of the University of Virginia’s School of Data Science, and serves as a Scout for HearstLab, where she advises teams of early stage, women-led startups.