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Métis Nation Saskatchewan – UnitedHealth Group’s CDO On The Key Success Factors For Chief Data Officers


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Métis Nation Saskatchewan – UnitedHealth Group’s CDO On The Key Success Factors For Chief Data Officers

UnitedHealth Group Inc. headquarters in Minnetonka, Minnesota © 2016 Bloomberg Finance LP The chief data officer role is still fairly new. As such, CDOs tend to have a variety of purviews depending on the organization in which they sit. Some are more focused on internal, operational data, while others have expansive purviews related to customer…

Métis Nation Saskatchewan – UnitedHealth Group’s CDO On The Key Success Factors For Chief Data Officers

Métis Nation Saskatchewan –

Métis Nation Saskatchewan - UNITEDHEALTH GROUP

UnitedHealth Neighborhood Inc. headquarters in Minnetonka, Minnesota


© 2016 Bloomberg Finance LP

The executive data officer position is silent quite novel. As such, CDOs tend to accept as true with a range of purviews searching on the group wherein they sit down. Some are more excited by interior, operational data, while others accept as true with wide purviews related to buyer data. Others silent accept as true with accountability for all data across a firm.

Fawad Butt has been a data govt at companies starting from Northern Have faith to Kaiser Permanente. He is now the Chief Info Officer of UnitedHealth Neighborhood & Optum, one in every of the largest healthcare companies on earth. In that position, he manages roughly 2,000 team members.

Butt notes that there has been an evolution in the CDO position. “Within the starting, we had been if truth be told data janitors, and we didn’t even accept as true with our procure brooms to sweep up the facts when we found it.” These janitors accept as true with developed to be influencers. These influencers tend no longer to accept as true with big groups to originate data-centric projects of their very procure, nonetheless rather strive to persuade others to complete the precise things with their data. Both of those data roles embody masses of accountability, nonetheless they’ll lack ownership and alter. As such, the novel tenure of data govt roles tend to be below two years.

 These CDOs who accept as true with the broadest purviews are those with transport tasks, which Butt has at UnitedHealth Neighborhood. No longer completely does he accept as true with accountability for rising the roadmaps and highlighting the main capabilities for the utilization of data, nonetheless his team is accountable for building products, handing over services and products, and implementing platforms, similar to data lakes, data warehouses and marts, as smartly as analytics platforms similar to SAS, Vitality BI, and Snowflake.

Because the position is silent novel, it’s uncommon for CDOs to accept as true with fleshy transport tasks, nonetheless more executives love Butt will grow to the level the place this arrangement of tasks will invent sense. The articulate is that with so few CDOs with a lot tenure, there are no longer ample of us but qualified to undertake the transport position. Under, he shares some advice and classes realized referring to learn how to connect and defend solid data organizations.

Métis Nation Saskatchewan - Fawad Butt is the UHG CDO

Fawad Butt, UnitedHealth Neighborhood’s Chief Info Officer


UnitedHealth Neighborhood

Build a undeniable data procedure

The largest articulate with data procedure is forgetting that “procedure” is in the name. Without working out the “why” of data procedure, underwhelming outcomes are likely. It must silent be sure what you are fixing for.

In every of the facts-centric govt roles he has taken on, he has asked the query, “Why are you pursing a data procedure now, and what’s the procedure?” He qualifies the query by noting that it is a industry procedure query in station of a data query. Is the industry below fee pressures? Are user behaviors changing? Is the group embarking on a digital transformation effort? Is there a aggressive chance of some kind? Each and each of those are legitimate causes to originate a novel emphasis on data procedure, nonetheless the path ahead will be moderately diversified searching on the answer to the query.

Info is in all areas in companies. Even with out a data procedure, data lives to your applications. Making use of a data formulation to it’s about taking alter of the facts to lend a hand a procedure. Butt notes that as soon as the query of “why” is answered, it’s well-known to focal level on industry capabilities because the areas of focal level for data procedure. It must provide a better roadmap of the place to focal level the team’s efforts first.

Form your data group

Absent a devoted data team internal the firm, there are silent likely a great deal of data-related roles to your team, from database administrators to extract transform load (ETL) developers and security engineers who focal level on data sources. There are endeavor structure teammates who focal level on data, as smartly.

Butt additionally notes that it’s well-known to originate lifecycles for your data precise as you would maybe perchance maybe for your automobile or for your washer and dryer. 

When asked how he has organized his groups for achievement, Butt highlights three main steps:

  • First is data management. It’s a long way important to originate and refine core data capabilities. The CDO must assemble his or her team and originate a budget to drive replace.
  • 2nd is what Butt refers to because the “city planning survey” of data. “You don’t precise assemble a city, you suggest,” he says. “There desires to be residential areas, industrial areas, industrial areas. This breakdown also can lend a hand one settle the place colleges and hospitals desires to be, the place highways are wanted, and the place skyscrapers are maybe to be built.” It’s a long way all over this section when it’s applicable to review data platforms and capabilities. Right here is the period of data modeling and data pipeline vogue. It must demarcate the flows of data. Both a recent divulge and a future divulge depiction desires to be arrangement.
  • The third section is the use of the facts. “Right here is must you need reporting, industry intelligence, developed analytics, machine learning, protocols to prepare data, governance items, and other tools,” acknowledged Butt.

After these first three phases, there are any other three activities that he every on occasion tackles in his first 18 months on a job. “Basically the main is to focal level on the root,” acknowledged Butt. “What terminate we desire? The 2d is enablement. What terminate we desire to complete to extract fee in the attain-period of time? Third is modernization. How terminate we modernize our practices and our skills so that this may well occasionally even be sustained for the foreseeable future?” 

Don’t neglect that folks, no longer precise programs, are sources of data

Butt equipped a profound level about searching for sources of data. Of us most ceaselessly get their data from of us in station of from programs. Thru instance, he says, “I do know a man, and he is the one who I consistently flip to when I accept as true with to acknowledge to a question with data.” Right here is tribal data in station of repeatable job. To originate a repeatable job, one must place in station data catalogs. One must additionally originate no longer no longer as a lot as a total working out of when data is produced, the metadata requirements. Also, who owns it, and what privacy concerns exist. “Determining those considerations up entrance will invent lifestyles more uncomplicated down the boulevard.”

Win the balance between centralized and federated data

Butt imagine that some of us get too hung up on figuring out whether or no longer data desires to be centralized or federated. “The finest answer is the ‘and’ answer,” he says. “You’d like centralized data and federated data. It’s a long way more a question of stage. Are you 30 p.c centralized and 70 p.c federated? Are you the reverse?”

Butt says figuring out that ratio of centralized versus federated data organizations is dependent in section upon the place innovation is going on internal a firm. “Innovation tends no longer to occur in the board room or at headquarters. It occurs on the final mile, closest to customers. That is the place sustainable innovation occurs in gargantuan organizations.

Purchase a long way from the pitfalls that can time out up Chief Info Officers

Given the short tenure of CDOs, a honest form of them fail. What are the sources of those disasters? Butt concluded that there are three sources of failure: heart-broken replace management, no longer as a lot as steadfast enhance from the leadership team, and a lack of data literacy. Concerning replace management, CDOs must take into accout that their mandate brings replace to many ingredients of the firm. Info that ancient to completely belong to a given leader also can now waft to others or it’ll even be owned by others. That leader who perceives that their autonomy has been reduced also can change into a blocker in the job. It’s a long way important to paint a narrate of the novel fee the firm will garner with a more thoughtful capacity to data procedure and data management, including the arrangement it’s shared across the group.

There will be sprint usaalong the capacity, alternatively, and some leaders is perchance no longer satisfied that these are adjustments for the better. Right here is why steadfast leadership enhance on the tip is very well-known. “It must silent no longer be the CDO’s boss, nonetheless if truth be told the boss’s boss,” championing the importance of data, smartly-known Butt. “Optimally, that’s the CEO. They may be able to impression the blockers, and they also will bid ongoing enhance when mistakes or missteps occur.”

A shortage of data literacy in a firm most ceaselessly capacity that executives don’t accept as true with a appropriate appreciation of the complexity of their very procure landscapes. “The CDO has to narrate the articulate and narrate the complexity.” In that sense, the facts chief additionally takes on a well-known position as educator.

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Few of us accept as true with as a lot ride in data on the size that Butt has seen, in particular in his recent put up. By following his advice, CDOs may well perchance even be in a local to stick around quite longer.

Peter High is President of  Metis Strategy, a industry and IT advisory agency. His has written two bestselling books, moderates the Technovation podcast sequence, and speaks at conferences around the field. Follow him on Twitter @PeterAHigh.

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