4 lessons pandemic taught nation's 1st chief data scientist

DJ Patil, PhD, the nation's first chief data scientist from 2015 through 2017, learned important lessons about data after he left his post as the head of technology at Devoted Health this spring to help California with its COVID-19 response.

Dr. Patil shared this advice, which he thinks could benefit all CIOs, during The Wall Street Journal's CIO Network virtual event Oct. 14. Four key notes:

  1. CIOs should understand the data they collect will drastically change over the coming days and weeks. They should prepare their mindsets and data systems to suit data that evolves regularly, which may mean tossing the structural design of their organization's data system if it isn't able to keep up.

  2. When working with raw data, CIOs should keep in mind that data can tell many different stories, concerning topics such as public health, economics or sociology. They should determine which story they want to tell so they know what numbers and trends to focus on.

  3. CIOs may need to expand their definition of data stakeholder. Usually, employees from sales, engineering or design fit the definition, but bringing in other staff members can help build problem-solving data streams.

  4. Some data may have more privacy implications than other data, and CIOs should be wary of that. "Some of this data is personal health information. How do we think about making sure it’s safe and secure and it doesn’t get … put with other datasets that we’re not comfortable with?" Dr. Patil asked.

More articles on data analytics:
Florida lawmaker warns state's COVID-19 death rates are flawed
Illinois kept details on nearly 2,600 COVID-19 outbreaks confidential
How Mount Sinai, NYU predictive models performed during early pandemic

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