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Wes Hunt, Chief Data Officer, Nationwide

Wes Hunt, Chief Data Officer, Nationwide

By Wes Hunt

Strong data and analytics capabilities can lead to competitive advantage, and has the demonstrated the power to transform entire industries and business models.  Yet with the emergence of big data, advanced analytics, and the ever changing security landscape, these trends can overwhelm and bog down an organization. That’s why there is a need for dedicated leadership; one who can set the strategy around data. The role of the Chief Data Officer is taking off as organizations look to fill this gap.

Big data and analytics is a big priority at Nationwide – in all areas of the enterprise. Prior to becoming CDO, I was the VP of Customer Analytics, using actionable insights from data to put our members first. My team worked across the company to build trusted relationships and deliver business results through actionable insights.  And it paid off.  Nationwide customer satisfaction increased by 13%, and member tenure increased by 15%, helping Nationwide to deliver on our promise of protecting what matters most to our members. 

CDOs can’t realize all the value of big data and analytics on their own. Every leader needs a team. According to research and interviews in a new CDO Perspective paper from the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), CDOs must be responsible for leading, managing and nurturing teams of data scientists, data aggregators and others with the business and technical skills needed to identify the opportunities data can create.  The CDO’s team requires a mix of tech and business acumen to bridge the gap between business units, analytics and IT functions. The key is for the team to drive innovation and growth, with a dedicated leader positioning the team for success.

At Nationwide, we are doing just that.  I am fortunate enough to have a talented team and data stewards throughout the enterprise, with the right combination of data science, analytics and innovation, to deliver great insights that move the business forward in a way that is consistent with our vision and values.  We use data and analytics to create personalized customer experiences that exceed expectations, demonstrating real value to our members.  Our data-driven strategy also leads to a more efficient enterprise, from sales improvement and retention to call centers and claims services.

It may not be easy, but when done right, data can truly transform an organization. The CDO Perspective found that the most successful CDOs are the ones that can provide a vision, strategy and management responsibilities for all initiatives related to data, including new business opportunities. They must listen to the data stewards, key company stakeholders and customers to resolve conflicts and remove any barriers to success. They understand that a data-centric or analytics-driven transformation isn’t a one-step trip, but an ongoing journey with multiple destinations — each one a staging post for the next.

Now is the time for companies to explore the opportunity and emerging role of Chief Data Officer to fully exploit the transformation power of their big data analytics initiatives.

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October 21, 2014
9:01 am

[…] Why Data Needs a Leader by Wes Hunt (IBM Smarter Planet blog) […]


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