The Role of Customer Centricity in CDO Excellence

Hello CDO Matters Community!

It’s been a quiet two weeks without travel or any client meetings for me, which has allowed me to read a few books and record some amazing conversations with guests on the CDO Matters podcast. My recent book diet has included a re-read of the Data Mesh by Zhamak Deghani (it’s a dense read that required a second ingestion, at least for me), People and Data by Tom Redman and a pre-print version of The Data Strategy PAC Method by Marilu Flores. While consuming these volumes in their entirety, I continue to slowly graze on Be Data Literate by Jordan Morrow, and The Changing World Order by Ray Dalio.

One of the great things about being a thought leader in the data world is that I’m often asked to read the recent works of my peers to provide reviews and recommendations — which I’m more than happy to do — but sadly my desire to read all the books I’m asked to read generally exceeds my available time. Still, I believe that staying attuned to recent publications in our space is an important part of my job, so I read as much as can. This also includes books that focus on more ‘macro’ level issues related to business or the economy, such as the book mentioned above by Ray Dalio. I am actively considering if I should write a book — but I have no idea where I’ll find the time!

The book I will write is about leadership — more specifically, the leadership needed for a CDO to succeed. I have a working theory that the mindset of many leaders in our space is completely askew and that many have forgotten (or perhaps never even learned) what it means to be truly customer-focused.

I believe a lack of a customer-centric mindset has allowed indifference, confrontation and animosity to often describe the relationship many data leaders have with their core consumers, which must stop. Breaking through these dysfunctional relationships requires a unique combination of humility and leadership that I’ll describe in depth in my book — should I ever write it! If you have any thoughts on what YOU would like to see from a book about the world of data, please feel free to reach out directly to me with your thoughts!

Upcoming Events

My only industry event in July happens to be one of the better events of the entire year — which is the CDO IQ Conference in Boston. This event used to be held every year on the MIT campus, but this year Dr. Richard Wang and his team have moved the event to the Hyatt Hotel in Cambridge to better accommodate the increasing number of attendees. This is a good thing, but I’ll definitely miss the ‘vibe’ of being on the MIT campus.  

There are four things that really make the CDOIQ event in Boston special:

  1. Most of the attendees are CDOs or people in CDO-level roles. This is not usually the case at vendor-driven events that are more focused on a broader cross-section of data professionals, where it’s normal to have only 10-20% of the attendees in a CDO role.
  2. The content is created by CDOs for CDOs. As expected, vendors do play a small role in augmenting the content — but what you’ll find is that many of the presentations are based on case studies where a CDO has enjoyed some success in solving a specific data-related challenge.
  3. It’s a small conference — with solid networking opportunities. If you see a presentation you like or learn of another CDO attending who is from a company in your industry, you’ll have no problem tracking that person down and networking with them. The event has a real sense of community, and attendees are willing to share what they know.
  4. It’s a good hybrid of in-person and virtual, with a conference mobile app that actually works. The recycle bin of my iPhone is a trash heap of useless conference apps that I would never want to use ever again, but in the case of the CDOIQ conference, the app is surprisingly useful and well-designed.

The CDOIQ event is my only travel for July, but later this fall I’ll be back on the road with two additional trips to Europe and several other cities across the U.S. and Canada to meet with data professionals like you.

I’ll be posting my travel and client event schedule on LinkedIn once it’s finalized, but right now I’m tentatively planning on visiting the following cities in September and October: Los Angeles, London, Munich, Dallas, Houston, Boston, Toronto, Chicago and Philadelphia. If you live in any of these cities, would be great to connect in real life with you!  

When I’m not Reading, Writing or Talking about Data…

Growing up in western Canada (Edmonton, Alberta to be exact) meant that as a kid, I only had three or four months out of the year when I could rely on the weather enough to spend an entire day playing outside. So I was trained from a very young age to take advantage of every possible opportunity to be outside — and that’s a pattern I’ve followed throughout my life — regardless of wherever I’ve lived.

Now that I live in Florida, this is especially the case. One of the coolest things about living on the east coast of Florida is that this time of year is sea turtle season — which means that most mornings during our daily sunrise walk, I get to watch female sea turtles returning to the sea after a night of laying eggs on the beach (leatherback, loggerhead and green sea turtles, to be exact). I also get to see baby turtles hatching and scurrying from the beach dunes down to the surf. Watching these amazing creatures is an amazing gift that makes my heart smile — and it’s something I never even knew existed before I moved here!

Photo by Malcolm Hawker of a turtle on the beach
Photo by Malcolm Hawker of a turtle on the beach  

I hope everyone is having an amazing summer so far and that you’re all finding time to get away from work and spend it with people you love. I am grateful for everyone’s support of our CDO Matters community and I sincerely hope you are getting value from the content we create.

ASK AN EXPERT — CDO Matters LIVE with Malcolm Hawker

When it comes to growing a business, your critical enterprise data is everything. But that doesn’t mean you need a high-priced consultant or analyst to weigh in on your MDM strategy!

Join us Thursday, July 27 for the next edition of CDO Matters LIVE and bring your burning data questions to the table where I’ll answer your top-of-mind inquiries about all things MDM, data governance, data fabrics, business value and more.

Malcolm Hawker
Head of Data Strategy @ Profisee



Complete the form below to request your spot at Profisee’s happy hour and dinner at Il Mulino in the Swan Hotel on Tuesday, March 21 at 6:30pm.


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