Time for Action

The atmosphere at the CDAO UK 2023 conference was crystal clear – 2023 created new demands and rules for the organizational data strategy. There is no better time to realize this change’s opportunities and value than now.

After two successful CDAO conferences last year, we looked forward to participating in the 2023 CDAO UK in London this February. While previous conferences’ main topics were strategy, role definition, and business alignment, 2023 presented different vital themes. With the developing recession and the new efficiency priorities (covered in the 2023 predictions blog), this year’s sessions were much more focused on execution, measurement, and tools.

Here are some of the main themes and professional concerns that were discussed during the conference.


“Terminology organization” was the most frequently mentioned as step zero for any data-related initiative – whether in data quality, integration, or analytics. It was interesting to listen to the panels on how terminology becomes multidimensional to reflect different instances of the same data object per the usage context.

The other major theme was, as expected, Governance. The previous association of “Governance” with regulating data objects was now redefined to accommodate the changing strategies into “regulation of activities.” Many panelists noted that governance initiatives were an easy internal sell – trust was not a thing organizations could compromise on. The way to emphasize this need to the management was to find a minor incident that happened and was caught and give as an example a bigger mistake that might have happened and could have fallen between the cracks. Managing data is similar to managing risk – it should be part of everyone’s role. As one of the speakers mentioned on Governance, “It is the boring stuff that cannot go wrong.”

Data Literacy

Data Literacy moved away from being a  “pain” zone and became an “action” zone, with lots of activities happening this year. Since data literacy facilitates widespread autonomous data ownership in organizations, we should accelerate knowledge transfer. This could be done by plugging into existing marketing vehicles (Lunch & Learn, blogs, Women In Data, etc.) to increase interest. 

But first, how do we define Data Literacy? Data Literacy is the ability to clearly communicate which data you need and how you will use it. It can create a bridge between the perception and the reality of what data can do. Data literacy is also the means to avoid duplicate efforts and re-inventing of the wheel.

Data Roles

I also saw a change in roles and definitions in the data realm: Data Custodians is a new term that was used frequently alongside data stewards. The Data Custodian’s main goal is to maintain data catalogs and quality tools with predefined data service agreements in place and to categorize the PII data and its controls. Data translator, a role which was associated with a stewardship or analytics activity last year, is now suggested to be combined with the data product role.

Data Platforms

When data platforms were discussed, “live” events architecture, reflecting what is happening in production, was named as a prerequisite for the federated data model. Several speakers from different industries mentioned that the data foundation itself should be more customer-centric. Tina Tong brought the most vivid example during the NHS keynote.

Last but not least, realizing value from the data infrastructure and governance implementations was suggested to be done by implementing tools on a subset of the landscape, measuring the ROI of this process, and subsequently, extrapolating it to get an investment for the whole initiative.

The vast rethinking and focus on execution created an energy of “time for action,” which was contagious. I look forward to hearing about the big and daring initiatives of these CDAO leaders during the year.

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