Data Science, Data Leadership & Corona Virus

The Purpose of Data Science and Data Leadership in Business and Comparisons with the Current COVID 19 Crisis response, The roles of Chief Data Officers and similarities to the Chief Medical officers role in this Crisis

The Corona Virus has put a lot of things in perspective and made us consider new points of view. It has also brought home more than ever the important use case for Data and particularly Data Leadership not just within that sphere but within organisations as a whole.

The Daily Briefings from the Government have become a bit of a ritual for many trying to find out more information about what is going on and find some level of certainty on which to make decisions. This scenario will be familiar to all business leaders but particularly CDO’s or Chief Data officers, whose responsibility it is to provide that information.

Comparisons with Chief Data Officer

The Prime Minister and government started the Lockdown with a statement of trust in the Medical Experts, Chris Whitty the Chief Medical Officer and Scientific advisor has come to embody the face of all the scientific information,

Comparisons of the way Government & the Prime Minister relied on his to information for policies and decision making could be made to the work of a Chief data officer advising the CEO or board of a commercial organisation, not just deciding the strategy and advising the Business leaders but also deciding which data or information to prioritise.

The Clarity of information and communication from the scientific advisers has been of high importance. Keeping the essential facts at the forefront of the publics’ minds and the decision-makers and helping to drown out the ephemera of fake news. This is exactly the sort of clarity business leaders need from their data functions and that Chief Data officers should provide,

Data scientists, Machine Learning Engineers, and Analysts know that the key to most of their work begins with getting good clean data. Bad data is like fake news it creates misleading ideas and models that end up with bad decision making.

Making Decisions with Data

However, an organisation cannot be paralyzed into inaction by a lack of data, Corona Virus changed the paradigm for many decisions.  For the government making decisions with what data was available was essential. This is where real leadership and strategy must emerge mixing an understanding of the data and the inherent weakness & bias the figures might hide and coupling it with experience to navigate a likely path that keeps a business moving forwards.

5 key behaviours that are key for Data leadership and have been shown in the work of the Chief Medical officer

  • Technical Competence – understanding the data
  • Strategy – taking the best course of action given the information you have
  • Communication – Advising people what you are doing and why in a manner they can understand and engage with.
  • Transformation, the ability to change the organisational structure and capabilities to better suit new situations and goals
  • Leadership – getting decision-makers as well as your own team to buy into your decisions and vision and stay the course even when there isn’t definitive proof you are succeeding


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