How CoreLogic splits data and IT

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How CoreLogic splits data and IT

Blurring the lines with a chief data officer.

Kyle Evans is used to questions about where his role stops and IT starts.

He is only the second ever chief data officer for property analytics firm CoreLogic's Australian business - better known by its former brand RP Data.

The company collates property data from about 600 sources locally and sells the insights gleaned from it to firms such as banks, telcos and government agencies.

Though Evans is quick to point out that the chief data officer role is "executive level" - and needs that sort of elevation to pull business onto the same page on data management - the positioning of the role and its responsibilities frequently invites questions of clarification.

Firstly, Evans does not sit within IT. There is a local IT director he works closely with, and that structure is repeated in CoreLogic's larger US operations.

"I very much have a hands-off approach to technology but I partner very closely with the technology people," he said.

"My perspective is that data is the fuel, the content that actually makes things work, whereas technology is more the enabler - it's the vehicle that helps that data move around."

To muddy the waters, data infrastructure design falls within Evans' remit.

"That's about the tools, processes and systems that will be required to bring all the data together and make use of it," he said.

"That can involve working very closely with the IT department on proof-of-concepts for different technologies, or working with external vendors on providing different access to cloud services, and so on."

He's also the internal sponsor for a data transformation project in Australia.

"We're looking at all of our enterprise-wide legacy architecture and making sure we migrate that to current-day and future-state architecture," he said.

Where he is happy to take a backseat on the technology side is on operational issues.

"I don't worry about networks, servers or applications - I just worry about the data," he told delegates of Gartner's recent BI, Analytics and Information Management Summit.

Evans believes the line between the CDO and a CIO or CTO varies. The interplay between a CDO and CIO, for example, is likely to lean more to the nuanced side of the spectrum, he said.

The role of CIO is similarly strategic and likely to transcend IT operations. As the 'I' in CIO stands for information, it could cause conflict.

"What I have seen in terms of conflict is where roles sit, in terms of where does technology start and stop," Evans said.

"If IT build out a technology platform like a Hadoop file structure with some sort of integration or management tool on top, when does the technology decision stop and the data people's remit start? That's a bit of a blurred line that needs to be worked through in a collaborative way."

The lines could further blur if a chief data officer is employed at an organisation with a chief digital officer, though Evans is unsure if that situation would ever occur.

"The question would be whether you have a chief digital officer, a chief data officer, a CIO and a CTO?" he said.

"All of a sudden your executive ranks are [huge] and your meetings aren't going to be very productive."

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