datamaster summit 2020

How Chief Data Officers Deliver Business Value in Financial Organizations

 

Alex Golbin and Louise Baldwin

Alex Golbin, Chief Data Officer at Morningstar (former Global Head of BlackRock Data Services)
Louise Baldwin, Solutions Director at Tamr

Data leaders are under pressure to justify value. Chief Data Officers seeking to build a strong data organization need to be able to prioritize projects, enable resource growth and justify their ‘seat at the table’ based on ROI to the business. However, knowing how to analyze, interpret, and communicate the value of data to the larger organization is a challenge.

Modern technologies and principles from DataOps need to be combined with equally robust business value assessment.

This webinar covers:
– Best practices for how to approach business value
– How to assess the value of DataOps
– How to build a value-based culture

Transcript

Yolanda:
Hello, and welcome to the EDM Council and Tamr webinar titled How Chief Data Officers Deliver Business Value in Financial Organizations. I welcome Mike Meriton, co-founder, and COO of the EDM Council. Over to you, Mike.

Mike Meriton:
Thanks, Yolanda and welcome to all our EDM webinar audience participants. Good day to you. So why are we all here? Data leaders are under pressure to justify value. Chief data officers are seeking to build a strong data organization and they need to be able to prioritize projects, enable resource growth and justify their seat at the table based on ROI to the business. However, knowing how to analyze, interpret, communicate value of data to the larger organization is a challenge. So modern technologies and principles from DataOps need to be combined with equally robust business value assessment. In this EDM webinar today, our speakers are Alex Golbin, chief data officer at Morningstar, and also Louise Baldwin, solutions director at Tamr. So let me further introduce our speakers, and welcome Alex, welcome Louise. So a little bit about Alex, as CDO at Morningstar, Alex is responsible for building, deploying, and operating enterprise data platforms across all the business units.

Mike Meriton:
And prior to joining Morningstar in 2019, Alex was a managing director and global head of data services at BlackRock. And prior to joining BlackRock in 2005, Alex was a principal in Bank of America’s securities, fixed income credit strategy group and earned an MS degree in computer science from Hofstra University in New York. So welcome, Alex. A little more about Louise. Louise is a solutions director at Tamr where she focuses on master data use cases. She also helps customers build the business case for creating accurate enriched 360 news of key business entities through master data. So before joining Tamr, Louise worked as an investment professional and Goldman Sachs, and IFC, World Bank Group. And Louise has earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. Now, this CDM webinar will have two sections. First, I will turn the discussion in a moment over to Louise, to moderate with Alex and discuss this topic in more detail. And then I will rejoin for the final section to address audience questions. And as Yolanda mentioned, please type in your questions in the Q and A box along the way when you think of them and we’ll work to answer as many as possible at the end. And we do commit that all questions will receive written responses after the webinar. So we encourage your participation. So let’s get going and Louise over to you.

Louise Baldwin:
Fantastic. Mike, thanks very much for the warm welcome and [inaudible 00:03:13] EDM Council for hosting us. Alex, really looking forward to our discussion today.

Alex Golbin:
Thanks for inviting me. It is my pleasure. Thanks, Louise. Thank you, Mike.

Louise Baldwin:
So before we jump into the detail on business value, I think Mike’s opening really struck home, the wealth of experience that you have in financial services. So starting at working in research, then on the trading floor, I’m curious, how much of that experience on the investment side has influenced what you brought to the role as chief data officer?

Alex Golbin:
Well, thanks again, Louise. And I guess from my perspective, I would say 100%. And I guess my early experiences going back to like early to mid-1990s when I worked at Lehman Brothers in fixed income research on the index side, and it was mostly doing data and analytics for index, but I quickly realized that unless you really understand what you do, it’s very hard to deliver a product. So I remember we were building a US credit bond index, it was like maybe 1994, 1995, and it took us a while to actually build a product and I took it down to the trading floor to show it to our head of credit strategy. And I was so proud of the index and the product, and I showed him the report and he looked at it for about 17 seconds and he told me, oh, this index is wrong.

Alex Golbin:
And as I started talking to him about all the data we were collecting and all the quality control and all the exceptions, he says, no, look at this sector, you have a spread of whatever, 75 and this sector straightened at 90. And it’s like 75 and 90, they were like both none negative numbers, less than 100 so for an outsider looking in, looks reasonable, but for an insider, for somebody who actually leads that market, that was nonsensical. So that was one of my early lessons of, it’s very hard to approach data technology without talking to people who really understand the content of the data and plugging them into the conversation early on. So this is something that I kind of carried with me for almost three decades of my career in financial services.

Louise Baldwin:
I love that example. I think when you enter into the world of discussing spread, you’re [inaudible 00:05:33] yourself right in the [inaudible 00:05:36] financial services view and value. Within that, when you think about the big picture, so starting off with that big picture view, are there any kind of core guiding principles that you have when you think about generating business value and ROI? I think one of them you might’ve hit on already, which is very much grounded within what is the data used for an understanding the data itself but are there other, sort of core principles that you go to?

Alex Golbin:
So if we bring it up as a matter of principles, so I think I’ll probably start with the first principle of understanding the business environment. Like we need to understand what is happening, where the puck is going if you will. In the financial services, really you need to understand where money is flowing because that’s where you need to meet the demand. That’s where you need to meet your clients. For example, we see that a lot of new money is getting invested into ESG products. A lot of new ETF flows are happening in the fixed income space. So as a data provider or as a data service provider rather, I want to make sure that we meet our clients with rich and comprehensive data coverage for ESG and fixed income. Then you see what’s happening with respect to demographics, retirees, especially in the US, baby boomers are retiring.

Alex Golbin:
And isn’t it interesting that for the last 12 years our interest rates are at the all-time low when retirees actually need to collect fixed income, when they need to collect income? So there is a high degree of hunger for yield, therefore you’ll probably see and you have seen a lot of interest in alternative products and structured products. So again, understanding where money is going, understanding where people are investing helps us as data professionals to make sure that we meet them where they are. So that’s like my first principle is understanding macro business environment. And my second principle is also kind of related to that, but be a partner, not a service provider. Like I always want to make sure that our team has a seat at the table. And if we’re not invited to have a seat at the table, then we invite ourselves and have a seat at the table and really have a partnership relationship as opposed to just tell me what you need done and I’ll deliver it to you.

Alex Golbin:
And number three is really connecting with clients. There’s always a way to hear directly from clients and I personally want to hear from clients what clients need as opposed to hearing from proxies of those clients what clients need. And I’ve been on countless client conversations, and there is actually a great deal of interest from various people on the client’s side to have a conversation and to have people at the table. So like people who bring credibility, where they actually know how the sausage is made if you will. And I guess the other two things I wanted to mention is another principle, I’d call it unbundle. So for example, if you need to replace a lock in your house and you say, great, I will replace the lock on your door, but first I need to build a new house, that makes this lock replacement project from a half-hour to like a three-year.

Alex Golbin:
So we in technology often like to build this grandiose, like big anvils, give us three years and $6 million and we’ll deliver something major. And I think it’s really important to unbundle those large deliverables into small deliverable chunks with each chunk bringing value. So if you need to replace a lock in a door, understanding that down the line you’ll probably need to move to a new house, fair enough, but start with delivering value that you can actually unlock your door. And I would probably finish with the fifth principle, and I learned from my mentor a long time ago, we’re running business, we’re not running a religion. And what I mean by that is sometimes you break rules, sometimes you compromise. So you cannot be dogmatic with everything you do. So many of us in technology like to be purists, real life is not pure. So you have to roll with punches.

Louise Baldwin:
That’s fantastic because that’s five key principles that I think really resonate as well with everything that we’ve seen on the Tamr side in terms of approach to business value. But I’d love to dig into this a bit more because in what you mentioned that macro case, so you kind of mentioned it between structured, and structured ESG obviously being a massive topic at the moment, and then when you think about it in the context of partnering with the business, it’s a challenge, right? It’s a challenge to understand the context I think of data today in financial services. The business is so wide and vast in terms of the breadth of expectations I think on the data org. Now you answered it within your five principles because if you work your way through, I think the unbundling one helps a lot as well in taking a chunk by chunk. But how do you think about those elements? When you think about this partnering with the business, understanding their context, how do you think about that?

Alex Golbin:
So there are a couple of things. One is and I’d probably call it empathy, or like walking in your client’s shoes. And again, it could be internal clients or external clients like anybody who is actually consuming like the product products that you’re building. And I’ll give you another example, one of my roles, I was responsible for client reporting and fact sheet production. And what really helped me when I talked to our client service organization and they said like, you really need to understand whose neck is on the line based on what you produce in terms of client reports. So you can imagine where the CIO of a pension font or an insurance company goes to their board and tells them that I replaced asset manager A with asset manager B, that CIO puts their neck on the line, puts their career on the line, that they made a good decision.

Alex Golbin:
Now they need asset manager B to give them timely and accurate client reports with performance and risk and return profile, so the CIO can go to the board on a quarterly basis and show them that I’ve made a good decision because look how good a job this asset manager B is doing for me. If asset manager B fails to deliver this data and reports to the CIO in time, they have nothing to show for the board therefore their career is in jeopardy. When we talk about the clients, when we talk about organizations, at the end of the day these are people with names and addresses and careers and families, and understanding who actually depends on you being successful helps you a lot in sort of like really providing the value as opposed to just kind of checking the box of the 17 steps of a project.

Alex Golbin:
And you always assume good intent when you talk to your clients, when you talk to users, at least from my perspective. So if somebody is giving me a hard time, I assume that’s not because they hate me. It’s not because they’re a terrible person. It’s because we have a disagreement. Usually, it’s like there’s 90% of stuff that you agree on and 10% of stuff that you could have a bit of a difference. So focus on your common areas and build from there as opposed to start to zeroing into your differences and dig your heels in. So again, if I were to summarize what I think is a secret for a successful partnership, is empathy and trying to walk in your consumer’s shoes.

Louise Baldwin:
I love that lesson. And the example you gave as well really brought it to life. You’re bringing me back to the days of being at the investment side and the pressure leading up to those board review meetings when you’re trying to understand how a benchmark was calculated and et cetera, et cetera. But I think that’s a really nice principle to keep in mind because I think that empathy, it’s too complex as well I think to break that [inaudible 00:14:07]. You need to find the middle ground because otherwise the problem itself just seems too vast, of really understanding the context that you’re going into. I think another thing that we come across is often the feeling of inherent value is there within the data org or within the analysis, but actually translating that to the business and communicating it can sometimes be a hurdle especially when the data org is sort of seen in some cases as this internal service provider. How do you think about raising awareness for the work that you’re doing? Is that something you do think about?

Alex Golbin:
Very much so and I guess again I’ll quote one of my mentors from many years ago and at some point, he asked me a question, he’s like, how do I make sure that the CEO of the organization knows that I’m doing a good job. So everybody, regardless of the level in the organization are asking the question. How do my superiors know that I’m doing a good job? And I think the key is that you have to tell people what they need to know, not what you want to tell. And that’s a huge difference. You often feel like people are trying to over-communicate and that’s a really good idea, but the way to address it is they’ll send you a 75-page deck, typed with like font four size, and it’s like if you’re in the mood of reading War and Peace, of course, you’ll do that.

Alex Golbin:
But if you just need like a 45-second Cliff Notes, what do I need to know as opposed to what do you have to tell? And I think we, in the technology space, often fall into this trap of telling the whole very long complicated story and we’ll lose our audience at a second sentence. And that sort of like goes the opposite of communicating the value. Sometimes somebody asks you a question, it’s like, oh, here’s the recording of the meeting and the recording of the meeting is like six hours long, good luck. But people don’t have six hours. Right. So I just need a Cliff Note. And I think that the second part of it, also be humble. Right. I think in most business environments, in my perspective, this is not a competition of who is the smartest person in the room.

Alex Golbin:
You’re not competing with other groups. You’re not competing with your partners. You’re not competing with your superiors. It’s about either delivering the business value or it’s not. So if you listen more than you talk, that actually works better in terms of communicating your value. And then sometimes you let your clients speak on your behalf because to me, the most credible way of communicating value is when it’s not you who are beating your drum, but somebody else do it on your behalf. So like, again, I’m always using examples, so after 9/11, when I was at Lehman, we lost World Trade Center, we lost the World Financial Center and we had to work out of the backup facility in Jersey City, rebuilt an index. We have nothing. It’s like our data center disappears.

Alex Golbin:
Like we had no data, we had no software. So it was like literally 24 by seven for about 10 days to actually get some semblance of index published by mid-September, like September 19th I think. And then in March 2022, there was an advisory council, where like all the senior clients gather through their like annual sort of conference. And the head of fixed income research introduced the client conference by highlighting the effort of the index data team rebuilding the index under very difficult circumstances. And there were probably about 100 senior clients in the room, and they all gave us a standing ovation. So to me, again, that’s an extreme case with extreme reaction, but it’s like, I was just sitting in the back of the room kind of like blushing. I didn’t have to say anything. When it comes your way, when you get a standing ovation from all your senior clients, that is the ultimate recognition of value of data.

Louise Baldwin:
Absolutely. And I feel like, again, your points are very interconnected as well. The first, the exact summary, really narrowing it down to a report that everyone cares about. I think really a key part of building the business case, something that it’s actually very hard, I think often it feels like it’s easier to write War and Peace and let people get lost in the detail than really get to the heart of the value, but it seems so key to really communicating and getting engagement when people’s time and attention span is so short really. And then on your other point as well on really thinking about the ownership of the business case too, right, getting the business to invest and I think it’s your point on not being a hero. I think they’re very much linked. Right. Again, partnering because to us often, the business case doesn’t really exist unless the business owns the business case.

Alex Golbin:
Yeah, and from my perspective, I think the best trick and it’s not an easy trick to learn, but I think the best trick is, figure out the way to plant your idea into other people heads in a way that they actually think it’s their idea. So instead of people feeling imposed upon, they think they came up with that and let them feel smart, let them feel ownership. Because in my view, it’s all about people feeling ownership. If you are dictating from the top of the mountain, this is how we shall do it, again, it becomes a religious exercise. Like nobody wants to feel less smart than you are, neither clients nor your partners and I’ve seen this. When clients come to you for advice or a question, there are multiple ways to conduct a conversation.

Alex Golbin:
And usually, if you highlight this is what’s happening in the world and make a point of you believe that they are already out of the game and they know what they’re doing, but you are here to help, that puts them in the listening mode. If you create a perception that they’re not exactly sure what to do, they are lost, and aren’t they lucky that you’re here to lead them out of that maze, you get them on a bit of a defensive because you come across as I know the answer, you don’t. So I think the trick is figuring out the way to plant your ideas into other people’s head and make them believe this is their idea and then you just sit back and enjoy the show.

Louise Baldwin:
It’s a fascinating concept. It really comes down to the sort of the behavioral elements of it, like behavioral economics elements almost in terms of thinking about that dynamic of engagements and [inaudible 00:21:42]. So I guess not arguing the logic first as well on why it’s right, really listening to the other side. With that as well, I’m reminded that we would love to take questions from the audience. So as we go through, please keep entering in any questions you have on any of these topics in the chat and at the end, we’ll regroup and go through some of those questions across the topics really. I think another element that is interesting within business value is the idea of quantification of value and the thoroughness, and really because financial services at its heart is a numbers industry, how have you thought about this? Do you try generally to quantify value where you can?

Alex Golbin:
It’s a great question and I wish I had a really good, simple answer, but as in many cases in the industry, I guess the answer is it depends. Right. And in many cases, it depends on the industry and it depends on the area in the industry. For example, if you are in the game of scale and if your clients or investors demand scale, then you really have to measure or report… Ideally what people want from you is to deliver better, faster, cheaper, and you can do two out of three. Right. You can do a better and faster, but it’s not going to be cheaper. You can do better and faster, but it’s not going to be… You can do better and cheaper, but it’s not going to be faster. Now doing all three requires some sort of optimization technique and perhaps trying to quantify better how do we quantify quality. Number of defects, number of recalls, number of client complaints, whatever that metric is, and put it in there.

Alex Golbin:
How do you define faster? Like what is the baseline, what is the SLA and how do we measure relative to that, and how do you define cheaper? And hopefully fairly straightforward, simple metrics. It doesn’t have to be extremely complicated because no matter what you come up with as quantification or metric, is going to be imprecise, is going to be vague. So from my perspective, it’s less important that the metric is perfect, but it’s more important that the metric is consistent, that you can see trends. So if you have like imperfect metric, but consistently calculated period over period, you see like I’m getting cheaper or I’m getting better. Like for example, in the asset management industry, I’ve seen people measure like cost per, you can measure like cost per trade. So total cost of the platform divided by number of trades flowing through the platform. In the credit card industry, so like cost per transaction or in the asset management industry, cost per portfolio.

Alex Golbin:
So figuring out something that’s actually fairly straightforward and easy for people to comprehend and understand so you don’t have to hit him with six pages of math, but there’s one number that people can memorize. It’s like, oh, cost per trade went from $0.47 to $0.23. You’re doing a good job. What is your ultimate goal? Can you get to zero? No. Like where do you think you can get to and what is the trajectory to get us there? So I think it’s all about metrics, but I think it’s like spending too much time and too much effort building the whole factory around calculating quantifiable and metrics kind of takes your focus away. Right. I’d much rather put more effort into delivering results than measuring those results. So coming up with some sort of simple proxy that tells this story, but doesn’t become its own major program, I think is important.

Louise Baldwin:
I like that structure. So really focus on the key metrics and using that framework, better, faster, cheaper, it kind of gives that sense of honing in on what’s most important and to your point, figuring out what those key metrics are. It’s something that we do when we approach the business case, where possible, try to quantify. I think often, to your point on measuring directional correctness, there’s value to me to sometimes the core process that goes into the quantification because you really have to be specific about what are the key metrics, how do we think about value? And so sometimes even in cases where you can’t quantify it, right, it’s too difficult. Still, the [inaudible 00:26:21] exercise ends up bringing you close or at least closer to defining the problem statements and where the value is. Though, I think importantly, to your point, not getting lost in the analysis because it could end up being a very, very long exercise if you’re trying to think through all the possible ways to quantify as well.

Alex Golbin:
And I think in terms of learning, there is nothing better than sort of learning from your own embarrassing experiences. So I remember at some point I was so proud of some of the machine learning tools that we built for anomaly detection and all sorts of other things. So I got overly excited about the actual math and technology behind doing something and I couldn’t wait to show it to our heads of business. And it was a very impressive platform. And we spent about 45 minutes walking people through that. And at the end of the conversation, the head of the client business says, okay, so that was great, so what do I tell clients? Do I tell them that they’ll get the reports an hour earlier? Does it mean that the number of defects will drop by 20%? Like what does it mean in my next conversation with the next client?

Alex Golbin:
And we were all like, uh. Right. So I think again, figuring out like, what is the punchline? And I think this question is like, so what do I tell a client is really important because then if that’s the baseline you’re starting from, it will help you figure out what are the metrics. So perhaps it’s not how many machine learning models you’ve released in the last quarter, it’s means to an end. Perhaps that’s the best way to deliver that quality of results or reduce the number of anomalies or reduce the amount of operational losses or reduce the number of failed trades, whatever your business objective is. But you’re not talking to your board with respect to number of machine learning tools, you’re talking to your board with respect to how many trades you couldn’t settle.

Louise Baldwin:
I really liked that as a principle to keep in mind when looking at the business case because it’s so simple to apply. Anytime you try to lay it out, what would you say to a client? How would you [inaudible 00:28:36]? Almost like the elevator pitch. You’ve one or two clients, they just want to know what’s going on in terms of from a value perspective what you’re delivering, breaking it down. I think in other elements of thinking through the value proposition, our tech providers like ourselves at Tamr, and these days the ecosystem is quite complex when you’re thinking about your vendors, when you’re thinking about your tech stack, how do you make sure that those investments are actually really worth your time in generating value for the business?

Alex Golbin:
Again, excellent question. And from my perspective, the first thing I’m just trying to understand when we have those conversations is… And I think in most cases it’s on us as people potentially working with vendors as opposed to vendors. Right. And it starts with, do I have a clear understanding of a problem that I need a solution for or am I looking for solutions in search of problems? So as they say, for a person with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So do I start with like, oh, this is a really cool machine learning platform, now, what can I do with that as opposed to this is the next top five business problems that the organization needs solved, what is the best tool to solve those problems? So I think it’s really important to have clarity of problem we’re trying to solve.

Alex Golbin:
And it sounds easier than it is. I often do this exercise were like when we’re discussing things, and it seems that towards the end of the conversation, everybody’s in agreement, I just send out to summary, like this is what I believe our next steps are or this is what I believe the business problem statement is and ask other people to do the same thing. And you’d be surprised how far apart those recollections are after the fact. So although you’re in the room and it seems that you’re all on the same page, when people sleep on it and come back, okay, my understanding of the problem statement is this, and then when you reconcile those five problem statements, they’re not the same. Which means that we have to do more work before we say like, so who is the right vendor? And I think from the vendor perspective, having an understanding is a prospect clear on the problem they’re trying to solve because if the answer is no, chances are it’s not going to be a successful engagement, and importantly, do they have a check-writing authority?

Alex Golbin:
And if they don’t, do they have access to that check-writing authority. And then there’s some more kind of philosophical, like strategic consideration, for example, what is our line of business and what is the potential service provider line of business? And as industry gets more and more complicated, there is a lot of coopetition, where you’re competing in certain areas and you’re partnering in certain areas. And by partnering with a vendor, are you going to shoot yourself in the foot down the line or is the vendor going to turn around and say like, you know what, now it actually seems that “I’m selling weapons to an enemy?” It’s like I’m actually helping you to compete with me with a more powerful tool, it’s not a great idea.

Alex Golbin:
So like figuring out where’s the direction of travel on both sides to see if there’ll be conversion to a business model and if you’re okay with that. And then finally, I think for us to figure out like, there’s always this notion of, do you build or do you buy? And I think from my perspective throughout my different roles in like buy-side, sell-side and now like data and research organization is, what is our core competency? And it’s like, we have a lot of really capable engineers, can we build computers, absolutely? Should we be building computers, no? Like this is not what our businesses. So we should go buy computers and put our engineering efforts into building IP that makes us unique and special. So I think it’s really important where some people have bias towards like, oh, we’ll build everything ourselves or some people have bias, so like, oh, we’ll buy everything because like why bother?

Alex Golbin:
Where’s that balance, right? And it’s really interesting. It’s like the engagement is a knee-jerk reaction or is it a long-term relationship? And another thing, Louise, I just wanted to bring up is like people often underestimate, is the cost of integration. So every business unit, every organization has a fairly complex involved business process. So people come to work, they turn on their computer, they have their coffee, they say hello to their colleagues and they have to do something for like eight hours. Now, if you come and introduce a new tool or a new platform, a new technology, how many hundreds of thousands of people have to change their daily routine to learn and integrate the tool into their process.

Alex Golbin:
And it’s a nontrivial amount of work and this human side of things, human resistance to change, people love changing as long as it’s not them who have to change. And sometimes we all underestimate it and we assume it’s like, oh, we’ll bring this like excellent automation tool and people will be lining up to use it. And then it’s like, oh, actually integration and hand-in-hand combat is taking a lot more time and effort and it’s taken us longer than we anticipated. So I think the more you think forward in terms of what is the immediate cost, what is the integration cost, and what’s the downstream business implication both sides, if you consider all of those ahead of time, it might help in really having a successful strategic partnership.

Louise Baldwin:
It’s really nice framing. And Alex, I feel like with everything you just covered, we could probably spend another hour just [inaudible 00:34:59], there’s so much within it to dig into it, but we have lots of audience questions coming through so I’ll close on one final one. You’re thinking about enterprise-scale data. It’s what you’re focused on with the platform. And I think what’s so many are focused on in terms of thinking through DataOps as well, often it’s like the infrastructure and putting good pipelines in place. But often, pipelines, hard to recognize the value straight away often. How do you think about that?

Alex Golbin:
Well, it’s like you don’t know all the plumbing in your house until you had a flood in your basement, right? And we’re seeing a tragic event in Florida. Right. So, unfortunately, the value of infrastructure is like the best you can do is like when nothing happens. And I think there’s a great deal of realization. I don’t think we need to sell people on the value of infrastructure. It’s more of having a reasonable project plan in how things will get done. And again, it goes back to like unbundling and delivering value in increments, as opposed to one massive hit. But whether it’s like information security or resiliency or stability or ability or inability to respond to crisis situations, we all have enough sort of like battlefield experiences in our lifetimes where we know it’s like, if we didn’t have the proper pipeline, we’d be out of business. So I don’t think it’s an argument of whether or not you need strong infrastructure, it’s how do you actually show that you do have strong infrastructure and what needs to be done?

Louise Baldwin:
And that’s a great [inaudible 00:36:42] points, ending on that core infrastructure view and yeah, recognizing that often the value is truly there and focusing on what is to be done. Mike, I’ll hand it over to you and it’d be great to launch into some of those questions.

Mike Meriton:
And certainly, Louise and Alex, thank you. Your dialogue has created lots of questions. And by the way, Alex, I wrote two or three things down that you said and if you haven’t done this, you should put a nice list of quotes because you have really good quotes. Let me give you the ones I wrote down. Walk in the shoes of your consumer. This is good for almost anything in life. Listen more than you talk. And the third one was, let clients speak on your behalf, which to me is vital. When you’re building the case for ROI it is so much more powerful that a business executive who saw the value says that and brings it to others in business because then they become your champion and then you can achieve more with that support. So I just thought those were really excellent thoughts, and there were many others.

Mike Meriton:
So good news for the audience, this is recorded and we’ll be sending out after this event the recording link that you can share in the company or with any of your friends. It’s a public service from the council and Tamr in preparing these materials. Let’s get onto the questions. This is a classic one. And Alex, if you want to say, nah, I’ll keep out of that battle, feel free, but it comes from Sandy, it’s one of the very first one. Is a centralized CDO function more effective and impactful than a CDO function organized by line of business? So that’s the old centralized, federated, what really works and what’s your advice on that?

Alex Golbin:
I’ll take the middle of the way. So I’ve been at the organization that’s extremely centralized and more of like top-down, sort of like one unified platform as a matter of philosophy. And I worked for an organization that’s more like federated set of business units. I think the right answer is creating a hub-and-spoke model and figuring what goes into that hub. And I believe, and it’s just my view that the role of CDO belongs in the hub. And what goes in the hub is themes where there’s very little if any incremental business value for business unit to own it. Like as an example, a central security reference data, I don’t think any organization will make more money by creating multiple versions of the same stock or the same bond. So you might as well quote “delegate” it to the CDO organization and make sure that you have one reliable, complete security reference data or entity reference or portfolio reference.

Alex Golbin:
And I’d actually view it as like CDO sits in this like hub and then data evangelists, or sort of like your partners like embedded in research in business products and sales in market development who sort of like speak both languages and kind of like play this role of translator between sort of like, hub and spoke. So again, that’s my view, but I’ve seen it work really successfully in a highly decentralized environment. So I don’t think there’s like a single answer.

Mike Meriton:
No, I agree. And there’s probably some key criteria about the nature of your company and how you’re organized and how you execute with your end client that might determine what degree you’re using a federated or centralized or the hybrid of those two. Louise. Anything you’d like to add to that perspective. I mean, we got lots of questions, so if there’s something you would like to, go for it.

Louise Baldwin:
No, I’ll leave this one to Alex. I think he summarized it beautifully and meaty topic as well. I feel like it’s always a good one to debate decentralized versus [inaudible 00:41:01].

Mike Meriton:
Yeah. I think the early days, was central chain of command and control. That had its benefits and downside. And then it went to very federated. And I think there’s now a moderated view that both… In fact, I was on late last night with one of the G-SIBS, the big top 30 organizations and they’ve actually implemented a group CDO and line of business CDO. So they want the line of business CDO to be very integrated into those businesses, which often are very different in how they execute and what the priorities are. And when they only had a group CDO, it was difficult to really get far into the business adoption and drive of data as a critical imperative. So again, I think every company evolves that strategy and it has a lot to do with how you go to market as well. So next question comes from Carla, can you talk on how we could assess the value of DataOps? So, Louise, do you want to take that one because often the word DataOps can have a lot of context? So maybe first, what is meant by DataOps and then part two might be, hey, how do you really assess value out of that capability?

Louise Baldwin:
Yeah, no, for sure. When we think about DataOps, we very much think about it actually on the basis of kind of the DevOps principles of what it means and it’s that continuous agile approach to data management and much more of kind of the principles underlying it. So I think a lot of it comes down to your team structure and ability that you put in place, but also how we think about it as well is often from sort of a best of breed approach as well to thinking about your architecture and the tech stack within that. And I think when we think about business value in a DataOps approach, I think it comes back down into thinking again through the aspects of where you’re actually adding value and it can be broken I think into the sort of traditional ways that you would view it, whether it be through the people and process that’s being changed.

Louise Baldwin:
And there, I think it’s difficult often with people in [inaudible 00:43:13] to capture value, but often it’s really about thinking through what is the team structure in place. What are the efficiencies we’re putting in place and what are the ripple effects? Because I think often DataOps to me is about those ripple effects of the agility that is passed on from building that sort of sustainable approach. And so I think covering many of the things that Alex spoke to in the session, but breaking it down into tangible chunks of value, I think to me is key because DataOps, it is more complicated often to capture the value.

Mike Meriton:
Okay. Alex, would you like to opine on that answer from Louise? Anything else?

Alex Golbin:
No, I certainly live it in the hands of an expert. So Louise is the expert. So I’ll stand down.

Mike Meriton:
Alex, this question, it comes from one of our audience members. We’ve covered in different dimensions, but sort of a crystallization of, in your opinion, what are the most important success factors for the CDOs relationship with IT with the assumption that the person isn’t in the IT organization because early on CDOs in many instances were appointed to report to the CIO and that has changed. We’ve actually measured that in our global benchmark. Today the greater majority of CDOs are reporting to the chief operating officer or someone that runs operations in IT. And sort of a really interesting statistic that over 15% of CDOs now report directly to the CEO. So they’re a true direct line to the CEO of the organization, which we never saw in any prior benchmark until 2020. So back to how does that CDO work with the CIO, what’s your advice, and what are the success criteria for that relationship?

Alex Golbin:
It’s a great question and I have to be frank here, until I started considering the role of CDO for Morningstar, I didn’t even quite know what CDO meant. Right. Because at my prior places, there was no notion of CDO. So I guess one of the reason I thought that was an attractive opportunity is that I always feel the function of a CDO is like it is what you make of it. Right. So unlike a chief financial officer or chief information officer, or a chief operating officer, which generally comes with a fairly clear job description, what the role is, CDO is still kind of evolving. Right. And I suspect different organizations will probably have a different job descriptions and even like different reporting lines.

Alex Golbin:
Sometimes it’s technology, sometimes it’s in operations. So I just feel the role of CDO as this master connector or translator between client business or business development and technology. So in my view, a successful CDO is the one who can translate… And again, I mean, CDO is an organization, not as an individual, is the one who can translate I would say desired a business outcome into appropriate technology stack. So, which means that to be successful a CDO organization has to speak human and have to speak technical. So I think if you can bridge that gap between this is what the technology stack needs to be built and this is why. And have a clear way of articulating to your technology partners, this is why it’s important. And it always starts with a why. And this is what the end product is going to look like.

Alex Golbin:
And only then go into how this is going to be built and who you will need in charge in order to build that. Like I usually try to go in this order, why is it important to basically paint the picture of the world? And it’s like everybody, especially folks in technology, they want to know that they matter. Like we all want to like, I am making a difference, I’m moving the dial. So why is this important? What is the product? What will clients see? What will business units see and how will it build and that how goes back to the technology people. So you don’t give technologists a solution, you paint the problem. And you delegate, you put them in charge and you enable them and empower them to come up with a technology stack that you can then calibrate and stress test with them. I think that’s when you get the buy-in, if you walk in and it’s like I needed to build this and you have until quarter end to deliver it, you’re probably not going to have a great conversation. If they feel that they designed their own adventure, but they understand you paint the targets like, okay, this is the target, we need to hit it, now let me figure out what’s the best way to hit the target, I think you get a better dialogue.

Mike Meriton:
I think it’s all about that collaboration of defining requirements and collaborating with your partners so they’re part of the solution. And not feeling dictated to is one of the human dynamics underneath that. A slightly provocative question. I like to throw them out every once in a while. This is from Louise. It goes as follows, I once heard that the most important quality of a CDO is charisma, what do you think of this?

Alex Golbin:
Is that a question for me or for Louise?

Mike Meriton:
I was going to say, Louise, you want to take it, but I think, Alex, if you can get ready for it, it’s coming your way since you are a CDO.

Louise Baldwin:
Yeah, exactly. We’ll have to get the CDO’s take on the quote. It’s a loaded quote, but I believe it in terms of often in so many roles, charisma carries you a lot of the way, but at the end of the day, I think people can [inaudible 00:49:30]. Right. Charisma gets you part of the way, it gets doors opened, it gets conversations going. And I think charisma often is that little bit of fight to get your seat at the table, but at the end of the day, I think people always recognize when you actually know what you’re talking about too. So a bit of charisma helps, but I think at the end of the day, having that rigor that goes with both being able to speak to Alex’s previous point, to be able to speak to the [inaudible 00:49:58], to be able to speak the architecture, but to also fundamentally know what problems you’re solving, I think once you get at the seat at the table, people are able to tell the difference between those that are waffling and relying on charisma alone versus those that have a bit more substance behind them.

Mike Meriton:
Alex, you’re a CDO, so what do you think?

Alex Golbin:
So years ago as, again, through this webinar, I’m recalling back my experiences from the last millennia, but when I was on the sell side of the trading desk, there was one senior manager who was incredibly rude. And at some point it’s like I asked him like, why are you so nasty to people? And he looked at me and he said like, we’re paying way too much to be nice to them. Things have changed, right? So I think that I agree with Louise 100%. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, and if you don’t understand detail, no charisma in the world will feel in the void of not making sense. But if you’re a really good technocrat, if you really understand the subject matter and you’re not jerk about it, that will help. Right. So I think your subject matter comes first, but having some people skills on top of that so you don’t have to be mean and nasty is absolutely going to open many more doors for you.

Mike Meriton:
Yeah. I was going to say, Alex, one of the things the council has been curating for industry because it’s been built by all the practitioners is a framework for helping with data management [inaudible 00:51:40] of the global finance industry, including regulators is utilizing it. And we’re just releasing today and into the next couple of months, a companion to DCAM called CDMC for cloud data management, which has had 200 people, all the major cloud companies on cloud data management and sensitive data management controls. But inside of those documents, there’s a narrative around the ability for the CDO and their team to communicate and that if you’re a good communicating team, you can achieve a lot, especially if you create that companionship and support of enabling business. One example was a CDO who built a phenomenal strategy, but if you went into the room and asked, what is the strategy for the CDO function, it was in a book, it wasn’t in something that was actively communicated.

Mike Meriton:
And so to me, the word charisma, which Louise I think you’ve hit on, is the ability to have the courage to articulate and engage business and to talk about it and make that fundamental to how you execute. So I think an awesome idea. So we’ve hit a lot of questions. I also wanted to thank one of our panelists that put a quote into the panel, that it was one of the more relevant and most interesting in 20 years of listening to data management. So, Alex and Louise, I didn’t type that in. I don’t think any of our staff members did. So, Rob, thank you. That’s great. Here’s what we’re going to do. I’d like to give Alex and Louise a moment to give us your final thoughts of takeaway and I’ll cover some housekeeping. We’re going to get all of these questions answered because you took the time to put them in. Before I cover how we’re going to do that, let me start first, Alex, with you. What would you pass on to this audience as one or two key takeaways from this discussion that will help them in their business.

Alex Golbin:
So from my perspective, and again, obviously take it with a grain of salt, but I always try to focus on outside-in perspective. And I think we often see a conversation on the technology or data side as it’s like we’ll build it and they’ll come. And then we’ll build it and somehow didn’t come and it’s like, oh, they didn’t come because we didn’t build it in the right technology stack, let’s move it to the cloud and let’s move it to something else. So that’s to me, a typical inside-out perspective. And I think if we keep this really strong, philosophical alignment with outside-in, what is the desired outcome, and then what is the right solution for that, our heat ratio if you will, will be much higher.

Mike Meriton:
Good. And Louise, over to you on final thoughts for the audience.

Louise Baldwin:
Yeah, for sure. So I think a couple of things, I think what Alex said around talk less, listen more, it’s so simple, but I think that idea really hones in on the idea of empathy and being able to really articulate what is the problem at the end of the day that you’re trying to solve. And so a very simple but core principle that to me is definitely something I’m going to walk away with from listening to Alex’s great insights.

Mike Meriton:
Awesome. So Louise, thank you again for you and Alex and taking the time with these great questions and dialogue together. I think this is a tremendous service. And thank you as well to the Tamr team for sponsoring this EDM webinar. Louise, do you mind just taking a moment to let the audience know about Tamr and how to get in touch with you if they’d like to learn more about your capabilities?

Louise Baldwin:
Yeah, for sure. And thank you very much to the audience as well for their great [inaudible 00:55:31]. I just really enjoyed the session throughout. Yeah, I mentioned some of the resources that we have at Tamr on the topic of business value that you can find on our website. So at Tamr, we are focused on cloud-native data mastering and to me, business value is at the heart of what master data management is about. So it’s a topic that we spend a lot of time on. So a few resources to mention, one is our blog theories really around making the business case for master data. And then there’s our podcast, so getting to engage on these topics and really think through how it’s put into practice in reality across enterprises. And the third is Forrester’s Total Economic Impact study. So the one that Tamr did, I’ll mention it because we’re proud of the results that we’ve seen, but also more generally, actually the Forrester reports are often done in the context of a specific vendor, but often underlying frameworks.

Louise Baldwin:
So when you go beyond the high level, here’s the ROI promised and look at how they approach the analysis, often it’s actually very interesting in terms of thinking through how to capture business value, engage with the business, how to think about sort of total cost of ownership. So if you take any of the Forrester reports, kind of look at the underlying model, they can be quite useful for framing the business value.

Mike Meriton:
Great. And if people want to get in touch, Louise, with you, I think right here is your contact information. And again, really thank you. We strongly encourage if people who would like to learn more, Tamr has been an excellent member of the EDM Council and have hosted this event with Alex today. A little housekeeping before we wrap up at the top of the hour. Everyone’s going to receive two emails, one within the next hour, two will automatically come from the platform. It’s the link to the recording. Please feel free to share this inside your firm or to any of your friends and colleagues at other companies. It’s a public service. So if you found this useful, pass it on. Number two, a second email will come within a few business days early next week with the slides and all of the questions you put in, we’ll have a written response. Louise and the team from Tamr along with help from Al, we’ll look at those and make sure we give you a written response.

Mike Meriton:
We really appreciate it. And then please visit the edmcouncil.org website, you’ll see other webinars you can watch that are free public service and as well other materials on training, groups that are open for you to join. One big one, we just launched a data ROI workgroup. It was one of the hottest groups that everyone asked for. Just visit our homepage, click on groups. You don’t have to be a member of the council to join it. That team is super active, building out the ROI for the CDO and for their team. And that’s it. So everyone, have a wonderful day. And again, thank you, Alex. Thank you, Louise. A great discussion. I really appreciate it.

Alex Golbin:
Thank you very much. Have a great day.

Mike Meriton:
Bye-bye to everyone. Cheers. Take care.