Communication, Collaboration Are Keys for CDOs, Data Officials Say

While data management is becoming more intertwined with tech initiatives, two data officials at the May 27 Federal Data Strategy Conference said that communication and collaboration between chief data officers and other offices within Federal agencies are keys to their success.

“The thing about chief data officers, and anyone working as data leaders in any regard, is the collaboration,” Mark Krzysko, principal deputy director of acquisition policy and analytics at the Department of Defense (DoD), said. “Data is ubiquitous across the department,” he added.

Krzysko explained that an agency like DoD faces unique challenges because of its massive size. There are many data problems to solve, he said, and no one person can do it all by themselves. “Chief data officers are really a community of other operational people,” and those members of the community can help with leadership across other functional or business areas, Krzysko said.

Alongside this community of data leaders, clear communication through data stories can help meet mission goals, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Deputy CDO Costi Tudan added. From occasional data analysts to data scientists to senior management decisionmakers, Tudan said that communication should reach all types of data users.

Specifically, Tudan said that CDOs should be “ensuring that we have data stories as opposed to mathematics and statistics” to demonstrate the tangible benefits of data projects. Tailoring data stories to the different audiences can show that data initiatives are an opportunity for other offices and teach individual employees how data can be used, he said.

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