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Universities are training CDOs, yet organizations can’t keep them | #MITIQ

Peter AnlyanThe conversations around the emerging Chief Data Officer (CDO) role, what it should entail, and the subsequent interest shown by enterprise organizations led to a pivotal decision by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to modify its annual symposium’s original focus from information quality to now include the CDO.

“There’s a lot of talk about what exactly the CDO means, it’s going to be different in every organization,”  Peter Anlyan, the Symposium Co-Chair for the MIT CDOIQ event, told theCUBE co-hosts Paul Gillin and Dave Vellante in a live interview.

“We’re conducting a baseline survey to find out, ‘If you’re a CDO, what does that mean in your organization? If there isn’t one, is there a de facto one?’ If you take that info and you wrap information quality around that, and you place that into the context against the backdrop of Big Data, then you have content you can explore in a symposium like this,” Anlyan explained.

“We have a platform that is really different form conferences everywhere. We decided to have the internal MIT experience incorporated in the symposium. We will do that more next year,” he went on. This year’s event had nearly 10 panel titles that included Big Data topics, a handful of those focusing solely on the CDO role. “On the whole, we’re taking a more of a balcony view of the industry. We’re really appealing to leaders in the industry,” said Anlyan.

He further explained the symbiotic relationship between MIT and corporations, saying “It’s the strength of what MIT has to offer. For this to be just an academic conference, I think that is very narrow. We have academia, the industry, and research.”

Read more after the video.

Is there progress in information quality?


Asked if there was progress being made in the field of information quality, Anlyan said it was like “changing a tire while the car is running, it’s what everyone is trying to do. It’s not getting better necessarily when you look to the whole array of organizations to whom this matters. The awareness is generally heightened. I think you’re seeing more activity in businesses that weren’t necessarily technology oriented.”

“I don’t think that people will get on the data quality band wagon until they have to,” he added. Most businesses need to realize it is a competitive advantage, and only then they’ll jump on board.

Closing the data skills gap


Commenting on the data skills gaps and the existing shortages of professionals, Anlyan  said that the industry has been claiming universities are not turning out data scientists. In defense, Anlyan detailed MIT’s own masters programs that “are churning out these graduates and they are moving into the workplace and they are very sought after. Academia is responding.”

“My question is, what do we do in the enterprise to keep the talent that we’ve got?”  Anlyan asked, further detailing MIT programs that include leadership and communication training in the curriculum. Yet from Anlyan’s experience, these are not areas on which the industry focuses.

  • The need for MIT CDOIQ

Asked about the stakeholders present at the 2014 edition of the symposium, Anlyan said MIT saw “a lot of new faces this year, which is I think a really good sign. We had a lot of last minute interest. I think it had to do somewhat with social media and word of mouth. We also made a concerted effort to make sure that we had some thought leaders who would invite other people to come out.”

Future plans for the CDOIQ symposium focus on an organic, moderate growth. “I don’t want it to get too big because I think it will lose some of it effectiveness,” Anlyan said. “I just think the intimate aspect of it is part of what makes it special. You establish relationships, and that’s all it is about.”

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