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Author: Evolving Chief Data Officer Role Is Focused on Data Literacy, a Culture of Data

Peter Jackson also highlights the need for organizations to include chief data officers in the C-suite.
  • Lori Chordas
  • January 2022

The Chief Data Officer's Playbook

As companies increasingly recognize the value of data and view it as a game changer, many are turning to chief data officers to lead the charge.

“Today, companies want datasets quicker because they need to make faster decisions,” said Peter Jackson, chief data and analytics officer at Exasol and the former director of group data sciences at Legal & General. “They also need datasets that they can trust.” Jackson, who co-authored both the first and second editions of the book, The Chief Data Officer's Playbook, with Caroline Carruthers, CEO of global data consultancy Carruthers and Jackson, said chief data officers are instrumental in helping organizations achieve those goals.

Following is an edited transcript of an interview with AM Best TV.

What inspired you and Caroline to write the book?

We met in 2016 while presenting at a data conference. We looked at each other over a cup of coffee and said, “Wouldn't our jobs be a lot easier if there was a manual or handbook about how to do our jobs? Let's try to help our fellow professionals and the people who are becoming chief data officers and write the playbook on how to do it from our experience.”

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

How is the chief data officer's role evolving?

We've seen what you might call the rise of the chief data officer over the last decade. More organizations are appointing a CDO because they see that there is value in the proper management and governance of data, but also in leveraging value and insight through to data science from data. Recently, the CDO has become a more senior role within organizations that have truly understood that data is a differentiator.

What is data literacy and how can it be used?

Data literacy is about an organization and everyone in it understanding the data value chain from the moment the data is captured, such as through an app or a digital platform. Data literacy is also being able to use the data to tell a story. If you can't tell a story that changes the behavior of your organization or customers, you're just creating a nice visualization but you're not changing anything.

How can chief data officers leverage real-time dynamic data to help solve market problems?

One of the roles of the CDO is to look outside of the organization to think about other datasets that may be used to answer those questions. I've seen that happen increasingly with COVID. In my role at Legal & General during the start of the pandemic, we wanted to understand how markets were going to behave and what were going to be the blockers and changers in the market. We had to think almost outside of the box, perhaps laterally, about what other datasets we could bring in and whether we had the capability to do that. We then had to analyze them to give us a clue as to what was happening or what was going to happen.

Lori Chordas is a senior associate editor. She can be reached at

AM Best Trilogy

AM Best details the history of AM Best, credit rating agencies and the life of Alfred M. Best.

The Company—A History of AM Best

The Industry—A History of Credit Rating Agencies

The Man—A Biography of Alfred M. Best

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