Most Talked-About Topics for Data Leaders in Early 2022

Comunity Blog
Written by Megan Woodruff

JULY 21, 2022

Evanta’s Chief Data Officer communities are fully back to in-person gatherings; for some, returning for the first time since 2019. Although many have shifted roles and organizations over the last two years, the sense of community, engagement and leadership is stronger than ever as they work to collect insights and propel data-driven decision making. 

This year, nearly 1,000 Chief Data and Analytics Officers have joined together through one or more of the 17 CDO gatherings Evanta has held, including seven Executive Summits, five Inner Circle Dinners and five Virtual Town Halls.

The most popular sessions this season have focused on data architecture, self-service data and the data and analytics talent landscape. Here are a few highlights from top-rated sessions: 

Topic: Connecting the Dots — Building a User-Friendly Data Architecture

Speakers: Keri Olson, VP, Data and AI Product Management and Development, IBM; Jeremy Lembeck, Director, Data and Analytics, Land O'Lakes; Tony Peleska, VP and Head of Information Technology and Digital Transformation, Kraus-Anderson

Session Overview: With the explosion of big data, organizations across the globe are in a race to monetize insights. But to be truly data-driven, the enterprise must break down data silos, making it accessible to workers company-wide. Data fabric, an emerging architecture that connects data across various environments, aims to do just that.

In this interactive roundtable session CDOs discussed:

  • Enabling self-service data consumption and collaboration 
  • Implementing new strategies to discover and govern data  
  • Automating workflow and pipeline creation across distributed data sources

Topic: Empowering the Business Through Self-Service Data

Speaker: Ines Davis, Vice President Marketing Strategy and Analytics, Information Management and Strategy, Ameriprise Financial

Session Overview: Empowering business users to create their own reports and queries without data team support allows insights to be shared with decision makers at faster speeds. Data and analytics leaders are increasingly adopting self-service data and analytics tools to strategize, streamline and propel the organization towards data modernization.

In this session CDOs discussed:

  • Identifying gaps in company culture that hinder self-service models
  • Strategizing the use of all data assets to deliver self-service tools
  • Selecting and adopting the tools needed to enable data efficiency amongst business users

Those who attended this session said they “would love [a] deeper dive seminar on this at an upcoming conference” and that it was a “great survey of the state of data self-service in the community!”

Topic: Bridging the Skill Gap — A Data Talent Q&A

Speakers: David Dietrich, VP, Advanced Analytics & Governance, Fidelity Investments; Dev Das, Student, MIT Sloan Master of Business Analytics; James Hennessy, Student, MIT Sloan Master of Business Analytics

Session Overview: In this hyper-competitive landscape, it's more challenging than ever for data and analytics leaders to acquire the talent they need to support a digital business. CDOs grapple with the best ways to attract and retain top prospects that are capable of empowering the future enterprise. In this session, we took a unique approach by listening to talent entering the workforce of tomorrow.

In this interactive Q&A session, students from MIT and Dietrich explored ways to:

  • Identify the data and analytics skills needed now and for the future
  • Understand the expectations of data talent entering the workforce
  • Pinpoint gaps in enterprise expectations vs. collegiate curriculum

Those who attended this session said it “helped [them] better understand the mindset of potential new employees” and that they “really appreciate having students [at the summit].”

CDOs also requested guest speakers at their Executive Summits this season. Here are three standout guest speakers from the first half: 

  • Stress Management Strategies for Effective Leadership 
    Oluyinka Ajirotutu, Stress Management & Lifestyle Change Expert, Guest Speaker
  • Strengths 2.0 — Applying Design Thinking to Your Strengths and Weaknesses
    John K. Coyle, CEO and Founder of "Speaking Design Thinking," Guest Speaker
  • Creating a Company of Owners
    Daren Martin, Culture Architect and Best-Selling Author of "A Company of Owners," Guest Speaker

A core focus that’s been more prevalent for CDOs this season is the talent pool. Many of Evanta’s data communities across the U.S. held an open dialogue on diversity in data leadership. Led by women in data, these conversations focused on how to challenge the status quo while increasing diversity and inclusion efforts to close the gender gap.

The data community is also working to understand the lasting impact the pandemic will have on the workforce. Many leaders are looking to adopt successful strategies to recruit and retain top talent. This session in New York was designed to workshop best practices:

Topic: Putting People First — Winning the War for Talent

Speakers: Kurt Kendall, Chief Analytics Officer, Publishers Clearing House; Tom Quinlan, First Vice President, Head of Data Governance, Apple Bank; Pawan Verma, Chief Data Officer, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

Session Overview: Not only did the way of working change as a result of the pandemic, the talent landscape has never been more competitive. Data has quickly become a core competency in organizational decision-making for the future. To attract and retain quality candidates, organizations must create a culture that puts people first and does the work each day to keep them. 

In this interactive discussion, heads of data shared ways to: 

  • Create and support the professional development of your workforce
  • Enable flexible talent models in order to remain agile
  • Attract and retain talent — what has worked and what hasn't

In our Leadership Perspective Survey this year, data and analytics leaders say their top three priorities are data governance, data-driven culture and data sharing, availability & democratization. You can take a deeper dive in our article the Top 3 Goals & Challenges for CDOs in 2022.

Most Read Articles

Here is what CDOs were most interested in reading in our Community Insights library: 

  1. The CDO Outlook for 2022: Three Key Themes. In this blog, we predicted that CDOs would continue to drive their businesses toward data-driven decision making with data democratization, accessibility and trust across the organization. These are 3 areas we thought CDOs would focus on in 2022.
  2. 2022 CDO Leadership Perspectives. This infographic shares what 150 CDOs said were their most important priorities in 2022 based on results from Evanta’s proprietary Leadership Perspective Survey.
  3. 10 Trends for CDOs in 2022. As we heard from more and more CDOs in our Leadership Perspective Survey, we wrote about 10 trends we were finding in their priorities across the enterprise and in their investment plans.

Overall, CDOs have experienced another excellent first half of the year, filled with networking, insights and community. Many have provided glowing reviews and are looking forward to more gatherings ahead. 

Excellent, thought-provoking event, and great to connect with peers.”
– UK CDO Community Member

I enjoyed the time being back in person immensely. I look forward to the next in-person event. You get so much better information when talking one-on-one or with groups of fellow industry leaders.”
- Boston CDO Community Member

This was fantastic — a refreshing change from other conferences.”
- Dallas CDO Community Member

Great opportunity to network and connect with industry thought leaders.”
- Southern California CDO Community Member

Evanta CDO Communities have already begun to build agendas and gatherings for the second half of the year. Please check out your community page and register for upcoming programs here


Megan Woodruff headshot

Megan Woodruff

Associate Content Director at Evanta, a Gartner Company

by CDOs, for CDOs

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