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Data Monetization? Cue the Chief Data Monetization Officer

Data Monetization! Data Monetization! Data Monetization!

 It’s the new mantra of many organizations. But what does “data monetization” really mean, how do you do it, and more importantly, who in the organization owns the job of “data monetization”?

The role of Chief Data Officer (CDO) would seem to be a godsend to answer the data monetization challenge. They should be the catalyst in helping organizations to become more effective at leveraging data and analytics to power the digital transformation.

However, all is not well in the world of the CDO. Many organizations appoint a CDO with an Information Technology (IT) background – the same background and experience as the Chief Information Officer (CIO). The organization then ends up splitting the existing CIO role between the current CIO and the CDO; giving the CDO the tasks associated with data collection, governance, protection and access.

Splitting the existing CIO role isn’t sufficient. Instead, the CDO needs a totally different charter than the CIO, and a key aspect of that charter must be around data monetization.

A recent article titled  “The CDO and the CIO: Is it a Love or Hate Relationship?” highlighted some of the challenges that the CDO faces in getting the support they need to be successful:

  • Only 47 percent of CDOs are given a clear remit or objective when they join an organization.
  • Less than half are given the appropriate staffing for their office.
  • Only a quarter are given authority over data across departments.
  • CDOs are given budget and applicable technology just over half the time.

My personal experience is consistent with these findings. In a blog titled “Chief Data Officer: The True Dean of Big Data?” I stated:

“The CDO doesn’t need an IT background (that’s the CIO’s job). I recommend an economics education because economists have been trained to assign value to abstract concepts and assets. An economist is “an expert who studies the relationship between an organization’s resources and its production or output (value).” And in today’s world, assigning value to complex data sets can be extremely abstract.

 A more accurate title for this role might be CDMO – Chief Data Monetization Officer – as their role needs to be focused on deriving value from, or monetizing, the organization’s data assets. This also needs to include determining how much to invest to acquire additional data sources that would complement the organization’s existing data sources and enhance their analytic results.”

That’s right. Much of the confusion between the roles, responsibilities and expectations between the CIO and the CDO could be clarified with a simple title change: Chief Data Monetization Officer. The CDO, or CDMO, would have responsibility for monetizing the organization’s data and analytics; for managing, refining, sharing and monetizing the organization’s data and analytic digital assets.

Enter the Chief Data Monetization Officer

The title says it all; the role of the Chief Data Monetization Officer is to lead the organization’s efforts to monetize the organizations data (and resulting analytics). To accomplish that, the CDMO’s key responsibilities need to include:

Document Business Use Cases for Data Assets. Implement a methodology that identifies, validates, prioritizes and documents the organization’s key business and operational use cases. The use case documentation should call out the use case financial drivers as well as the implementation risks.

Data Monetization? Cue the Chief Data Monetization Officer

Figure 1: Document Business or Operational Use Cases

Capture and Re-use Data Assets. Create a methodology that facilitates the capture, refinement, enhancement and sharing of the organization’s data assets.

Data Monetization? Cue the Chief Data Monetization Officer

Figure 2: Capture, Catalog, Refine and Share Data Assets

Capture and Re-use Analytic Assets. Embrace a methodology and tools that facilitate the capture, version control, regression testing and sharing of the organization’s analytic assets.


Figure 3: Capture, Catalog, Refine and Share Analytic Assets

Create Collaborative Value Creation Platform. Develop and leverage a data lake that becomes the ultimate repository for the organization’s key digital assets – data and analytics.

Data Monetization? Cue the Chief Data Monetization Officer

Figure 4: Data Lake: The Collaborative Value Creation Platform

Analytic Tools and Methodology Management. Deploy and run analytic and data management tools including the evaluation, selection, management and retirement of the organization’s data management and data science tools. This role also owns the development and adoption of a data science exploration and testing process (see Figure 5).

Data Monetization? Cue the Chief Data Monetization Officer

Figure 5: Data Exploration Process

Cultivate Data Science Team. Develop the organization’s data engineering and data science capabilities. This includes the hiring, training, growth, management and retention of the data engineering and data science teams, as well as any partnering strategies.  It is the data science team that ultimately powers the organization’s “data monetization” efforts.

Chief Data Monetization Officer: Digital Transformation Catalyst

A small number of organizations are starting to understand the subtle yet critical differences between a Chief Data Officer (who is chartered with managing the organization’s data) and a Chief Data Monetization Officer (who is chartered with monetizing the organization’s data). And there are examples from which we can learn more about the nature of the monetization role. For example, most digital media organizations have a Chief Revenue Officer. The Chief Revenue Officer is responsible for driving better integration and alignment between all revenue-related functions, including marketing, sales, customer support, pricing, and revenue management.

Ultimately the CDO needs to own the organization’s “Digital Transformation” process, which includes addressing:

  1. How effective is your organization at leveraging data and analytics to power your business model?
  2. Do you understand your organizations key business initiatives and how they benefit from big data?
  3. Do you have business stakeholder active participation in setting your use case roadmap?
  4. Do you understand the economic value of your data and how that affects your technology and business investments?
  5. Do you understand how to create a platform that exploits the economic value
    of your data?

Data Monetization Call to Action

It’s time to arm the CDO with the tools necessary to drive the organization’s data monetization efforts. This includes:

  • The Vision Workshop as a means to identify, validate and prioritize the organization’s data monetization efforts. 
  • The data lake as the organization’s “collaborative value creation platform.”