Eyes on Data: Transforming Data Challenges into Real Progress

In a world increasingly dominated by data, organizations are grappling with the need to effectively manage and harness this valuable asset. And with increased regulations and compliance, opportunities for innovation and AI, digital transformation initiatives, and data-driven decision-making, the demands for accurate, accessible, protected data are increasing exponentially. At the same time, the data management profession lacks a standards-based measurement and formal recognition for data management excellence. This is key to identify where organizations’ data management functions might be under-resourced or significantly behind peer organizations, where their staff might need development to increase their effectiveness, or how data management should be a strategic, ongoing business priority.

Recognizing these challenges, the EDM Council has partnered with its member firms — cross-industry and around the world — to develop and launch the groundbreaking Data Excellence Program. This visionary initiative is designed to set a new standard for measuring and acknowledging data management excellence globally, providing a roadmap for organizations committed to continuous improvement in the dynamic function of data management and advanced analytics.

The Data Management Dilemma

As data becomes the lifeblood of modern organizations, the struggle to manage it effectively, efficiently, and consistently has never been more apparent. Many organizations find themselves facing the daunting task of transforming their approach to data management from a one-time IT project to a strategic, ongoing program. Recognizing these challenges, the Data Excellence Program aims to support chief data officers (CDOs) and data leaders in justifying and securing sustainable multi-year funding for their data management initiatives.

Key Pillars of the Data Excellence Program

  • Funding Support: The program provides essential support to CDOs and data leaders in securing the necessary funding for their data management programs. By offering a framework that justifies long-term investments in data excellence, organizations can create a solid foundation for success in the rapidly evolving data landscape.
  • Strategic Program Approach: Shifting the focus from viewing data management as a one-time IT project to an ongoing strategic program is crucial. The Data Excellence Program encourages organizations to embed a culture of continuous improvement and excellence in their approach to managing data, ensuring long-term success.
  • Industry Recognition: The program establishes an independent and consistent approach for evaluating, supporting, and acknowledging sustained commitments to data management excellence. This recognition not only boosts the reputation of participating organizations, but also sets them apart as leaders in the ever-evolving field of data excellence.

Elements of the Data Excellence Program

  • Data Management Team Training and Certification: The program places a strong emphasis on staff training using the Data Management Capability Assessment Model (DCAM) as a common language and framework for achieving and measuring best practices. This ensures that organizations have a skilled and knowledgeable workforce capable of navigating the complexities of data management. This also contributes to developing a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Independent Assessments and Capability Improvement Plans: Annual independent assessments conducted with Certified Partners form a cornerstone of the program. These assessments, accompanied by formal capability improvement plans, guide organizations towards continuous enhancement, providing a roadmap for sustained excellence.
  • Recognition for Program Participation: Participating organizations receive company-level recognition, showcasing their commitment to advancing and sustaining data excellence. This recognition is represented by digital badge credentials, marking achievement for sequential levels of progress, signaling to stakeholders and the industry at large the organization’s dedication to data best practices.
  • Global Data Management Benchmark Repository: As part of the program, the EDM Council is establishing the profession’s only global assimilation of consistent benchmark scores for reference. This repository will serve as a valuable resource for organizations striving for continuous improvement, allowing them to benchmark their progress against global standards.

Founding Members’ Perspective

The Data Excellence Program’s success is underscored by the enthusiasm and commitment of its founding members, including both participating companies and Certified Partners who are authorized by the EDM Council to support members in achieving the program criteria. At the core of the Data Excellence Program is the commitment to fostering a community of organizations dedicated to unlocking the full potential of their data assets, including the partnering firms who can help them embark on this journey.

“States are challenged by the diversity and sheer volume of data we handle on behalf of our citizens,” said Jeff Wolkove, State CDO (equivalent), State of Arizona. “Our data management program is shifting our culture and focus to help us meet these challenges, and the EDM Council’s Data Excellence Program provides us with formal acknowledgement of these accomplishments at an organizational level.”

Similarly, BT Group is seeing a difference in its internal culture. “We are honored to be one of the founders of the Data Excellence Program, the first-of-its-kind, global initiative acknowledging those organizations who are making an ongoing commitment to achieving best practices across their data functions,” said Ben Clinch, Head of Information Architecture, BT Group. “We are already seeing results, such as a team culture dedicated to delivering the highest quality and greatest value for our data assets.”


In an era where data is the driving force behind innovation and decision-making, the EDM Council’s Data Excellence Program guides organizations towards a future where data is not just managed, but optimized for strategic success. By fostering a culture of continuous improvement, providing essential funding support, and offering industry-wide recognition, this program is poised to enhance the landscape of data management and elevate organizations to new heights of excellence. With the Data Excellence Program to support any organization, we embark on a journey towards a future where data is not a challenge to manage but is delivering value as a trusted, critical, strategic asset at the core of every enterprise and the objectives it aims to achieve.

Learn More

To learn more about the Data Excellence Program, please visit the EDM Council website.

This quarter’s column was contributed by:
John Bottega, President of the EDM Council

John Bottega is a senior strategy and data management executive with more than 40 years of experience in the industry. John began working with the EDM Council as an industry contributor in 2005 and served as chairman from 2007 to 2014. He joined the Council’s executive team as a senior advisor in 2014. In 2017, he took over as the senior executive and today holds the title of president of the EDM Council. Over his career, John has served as chief data officer in both the private and public sectors, serving as CDO for Citi, Bank of America, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He also served as head of data management for the Office of Financial Research at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

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EDM Council

EDM Council

EDM Council is the global association created to elevate the practice of data management and analytics as a business and operational priority. The Council is the leading global advocate for the development and implementation of data standards, best practices, and comprehensive training and certification programs. With more than 350 member organizations globally from the Americas, EMEA, and Asia, and more than 25,000 data management professionals as members, EDM Council provides a venue for data professionals to interact, communicate, and collaborate on the challenges and advances in data management and analytics as critical organizational functions. For more, explore edmcouncil.org and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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