Home Strata 2012: 3 Essential Skills of a Data Driven CEO

Strata 2012: 3 Essential Skills of a Data Driven CEO

At the Strata Jumpstart session on Tuesday, Diego Saenz of Data Driven CEO made the case for three skills that are must haves for CEOs to become “data driven.”

Much of Saenz’s talk focused on one specific data-driven CEO: Robert McDonald of Procter and Gamble (P&G).

He Is the Very Model of a Data Driven CEO

P&G has been lauded for its efforts to embrace big data, even as it’s been making cuts in other parts of its business.

Saenz called McDonald a “visionary’ who “early on, understood that data is the raw material of any business.” The vision? To track everything in the company “from the creation of molecules in the lab to the point of sale data from retail partners around the world.”

By any measure, that’s a lot of data. Saenz says that P&G does business in 80 countries and averages about 4 billion transactions daily. This can mean collecting as much as 200 TB of data to catch trends and opportunities for P&G’s leadership.

To cope with all the data, McDonald led the creation of the Business Sphere. This is a system with an eight foot tall, 32-foot wide concave screen in the P&G headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. The conference room has seats for the entire executive team, and one analyst that helps the team dive into the data.

Not that all the data is locked up with the executive team in Cincinnati. Saenz says employees also have iPad applications that allow them to move from a view of the world map “to a graph of toothpaste prices in India and a sales comparison that shows local brands are gaining share.”

The Big Three

So P&G’s efforts are impressive, but also expensive and probably out of scope for many CEOs and their companies. But the skills for “data driven” CEOs are the same for startup CEOs or the CEOs of major companies like P&G.

The first, says Saenz is strategic data planning. Saenz says that data is “the new raw material for any business, on par with capital, people and labor.” If you’re not managing data, says Saenz, “you’re not managing the business.”

Second is analytical skills. Saenz says that CEOs don’t have to become experts in R, but need to be “incredibly smart about asking the right questions.”

Too many CEOs, he says, don’t ask the “why” questions and reach the wrong conclusions from data.

Third, even though CEOs don’t need to be R hackers or Hadoop experts, they do need technology skills. CEOs need to “embrace technology and make it a key part of their skill set,” says Saenz. The days when CEOs could ignore technology? They’re over.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.