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GovCon Expert Chuck Brooks: Chief Data Officers Growing Importance In Digital Transformation of Government

GovCon Expert Chuck Brooks, a highly esteemed leader to the cybersecurity and government contracting (GovCon) sectors as well as an influential member of Executive Mosaic’s GovCon Expert program, has released his latest article with the program.

Previously, Brooks summarized the most significant trends in cyber that are impacting the federal landscape and government this year. Some of the trends he mentions include cybersecurity innovation, training, the impact of emerging technologies, the cyber-threat landscape, the defense of our nation’s critical infrastructure, supply chains and other aspects.

For this article, GovCon Expert Brooks assessed the growing importance of chief data officers to the federal landscape. He explained how their roles continue to grow within the federal government and other companies in our sector as digital transformation and a wave of significant emerging technologies continue to alter the sector.

You can read Chuck Brooks’ latest GovCon Expert article below:


The Chief Data Officers Growing Importance In Digital Transformation of Government

By Chuck Brooks

We are in the early stages of digital transformation where data has become the currency of every industry, business, and federal government agency. Data is everywhere, flowing from the sensor networks that surround us and at the root of our transactional activities. What, why and how we make choices in our lives are reflected in, and can be discerned through, the collection, organization, and taxonomy of data.

Digital technologies are connected to intelligent systems supported by artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms and are producing an abundance of information that is waiting to be consumed and leveraged. Data provides organizations with useful insights into constituents, customers and business processes that help decision-makers formulate intelligent, strategic business decisions.

According to Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, we produce more data every other day than we did from the inception of early civilization until the year 2003, combined. Therefore, the organizing, managing and analyzing of data are all more important than ever in our era of digital transformation.

The Chief Data Officer (CDO), is a newer player in the C-suite and in government agencies and their roles are growing. In the public sector, it is the CDO’s responsibility to make sure the agency has a useful, enterprise-wide data inventory, and emphasize sharing data across the siloed bureaus and offices to solve problems for federal employees and the American people.

The rise of the Chief Data Officer is an exciting and transformational change that elevates the significance of data. This evolution clearly acknowledges that the data being collected is a separate entity from the systems running it. The creation of the CDO role is a testament to the growing importance that both the public and private are placing on data and data management. It also brings transparency, efficiency, and innovation into the executive process.

A requirement for the CDO role is to understand the mission and of how to best cultivate and interpret the data and internal resources. With the advances in computing technology and algorithms, incorporating levels of analytics to unattached and unstructured data sources and building in an automation capability has become fundamental to the process. Bringing meaning to the data is a science in itself in the information age.

What are the required attributes of a CDO? There are several character traits necessary for the role:

A Passion for Data  – A CDO must be a data person.  A CDO has to be passionate and get excited about analyzing data and finding insightful patterns. They should strongly believe in the value of data and use that enthusiasm to drive an agency-wide cultural change to ensure everyone sees the importance of data when it comes to business decisions and strategies.

Agility – Managing digital information is important, but the key to gaining successful insights from this information is trial and error. A CDO should be able to adapt and change as processes unfold. If a procedure or policy isn’t working they should be able to analyze it and think outside the box to develop a new system. It is up to them to lead knowledge workers and need to seamlessly adapt and change as agency goals and processes evolve.

Technology Savvy – In order to harness and manage data, there needs to be a strong technological solution in place. The CDO needs to proactively learn more about new technologies by attending conferences, events, and hackathons to determine the best solution for their environment. It is imperative that they have a strong understanding of industry technology trends so they are researching and implementing new solutions, rather than falling behind and becoming irrelevant.

Calculated Risk Taker – Capturing and using data is uncharted territory. Agencies and organizations understand how data can be used but are failing when it comes to developing the right processes to garner useful insight. The CDO will make people uncomfortable and push them out of their comfort zone, therefore it is important to have a CDO that will lead boldly and continue to advocate for change even if people are wary and their ideas are unpopular.

Patience – As Benjamin Franklin said, “He that can have patience can have what he will.” Since this is a new role and an unexplored area of business, CDOs must be very patient and educate the C-suite and knowledge works along the way to ensure that everyone is comfortable and on the same page. Being patient will help the CDO develop a foundation and support system full of data advocates for future success.

The rise of the Chief Data Officer is an exciting and transformational change that elevates the significance of data. This evolution clearly acknowledges that the data being collected is a separate entity from the systems running it. Data has the power to transform our daily lives and keeping it sheltered and inaccessible takes away from its true value. In government, CDOs are the key to unlocking this data and revolutionizing the workplace, constituent interactions and critical decisions.

The new digital era of both industry and government is being impacted by profound technological innovation driven by information sharing, analysis and productivity. Data has become more than a commodity, it is a driving force that determines how we live, earn, and function as a society. The Chief Digital Officer role is to be the compass to ensure we head in the right direction in digital transformation as the speed and scope of data exponentially expands.

About GovCon Expert Chuck Brooks

Chuck Brooks, president of Brooks Consulting International, is a globally recognized thought leader and subject matter expert in Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies. LinkedIn named Chuck as one of “The Top 5 Tech People to Follow on LinkedIn.”

Chuck is on the faculty of Georgetown University where he teaches in the Graduate Applied Intelligence and Cybersecurity Risk Programs. In government, Chuck was a “plank holder” at The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) serving as the first Legislative Director of The Science & Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security.

He served as a top Advisor to the late Senator Arlen Specter on Capitol Hill covering security and technology issues on Capitol Hill. He has an M.A from the University of Chicago and a B.A. from DePauw University

Chuck Brooks LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chuckbrooks/

Chuck Brooks on Twitter:  @ChuckDBrooks

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