How do you ensure all your decision-making is data-driven?

Appoint a chief data officer (CDO). Second, give them a seat on the exco and let them be in complete charge of the data domain.

This was the message from Morne Bosch-Serfontein, CDO of the MultiChoice Group, speaking at the ITWeb BI Summit 2020 in Sandton today.

Bosch-Serfontein said each decision on BI and data resides within his sphere, and that is the way it should be. 

“I'm proud that we have a CDO, and that person happens to be me,” he said.

A crucial starting point to a data-driven culture is the right organisational structure, he added. If data is as important to a company as it claims it is, then the CDO must be represented at board level.

“If the person in charge of data doesn’t have a seat on the exco, leave that company,” he told the audience of mainly BI professionals and data officers. “If information is going to determine the organisation’s strategy, then you should be there too, not just the CIO or the CFO. You guys know that finance data and systems data cannot be managed by the same people."

Another important point, still to do with structure, is that if data lies in separate divisions, creating a data-driven culture is going to be a challenge. "It is up to me and my team to take the company forward using data, and that data cannot sit in silos.”

Bosch-Serfontein expressed disbelief that organisations are cutting back on budgets for BI while still "spreading the gospel of how important data is".

He shared the details of his enterprise data and analytics strategy and how he sold the vision to the MultiChoice board. 

“We are in charge and have control of this (data) domain. It is our job to teach the rest of the organisation about data and analytics; they think they know, but they don’t. We need to teach people how to read and understand the data story.”

He noted that how one manages the data component is exactly the same across all industries, be it entertainment, finance or any other. What’s important is that the data officer is not part of the IT department. 

“It’s important for BI to be recognised as a standalone business unit,” he concluded.