Rise of the Chief Data Officer

Recognizing the value of business data, enterprises are increasingly welcoming a new member to the CxO club, according to Gartner.

In just one year, the number of chief data officers (CDOs) has more than doubled according to IT analyst firm Gartner.

A CDO – not to be confused with that other CDO, the chief digital officer -- is responsible for an organization's data management and governance strategy. Generally, the position involves implementing and enforcing policies and practices that enable enterprises to capitalize on the inherent value of the data they collect and store.

In 2014, 400 people held the title of CDO. A year later, that number rose to 1,000, observed Gartner. And as with any new trend, whether in staffing, IT or the intersection of the two, growing pains abound.

"The organizational design of the office of the CDO must clearly take account of the role that data is expected to play in the organization. Most CDOs, however, are new to the role and often have little experience with managing large teams or designing and changing organizational structures," observed Gartner research vice president Mario Faria in a statement.

Adding to challenge is the fact that there's no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of establishing the CDO role. "There's no one correct way to design a CDO office — its structure and strength depends on how it is used by the evolving organization," Faria added.

In a media advisory today, Gartner said it had identified four different approaches:

  • CDO Organization as an Engine Room: The office of the CDO delivers operational data services that are focused on the needs of the internal users. It succeeds by monitoring any data market developments and building expertise in data asset usage, information management and analytics.
  • Everyone's CDO Organization: The office of the CDO focuses on the needs of the internal users. But there is a strong push for data assets to be used aggressively by business leaders and individual contributors to break through traditional perimeters of business, and to drive transformation and new digital business models across the organization.
  • CDO Organization as a Business Service Provider: The office of the CDO delivers operational data services that are used by both internal and external users. The activities are expanded and integrated into a shared-service organization that runs like a business.
  • CDO Organization Is the Business: Information is one of the explicit external offerings of the organization or is inseparable from the product line. The office of the CDO delivers internal and external data services that drive business transformation and differentiation.

Zeroing in on the proper structure is only half the battle. In the end, it all boils down to finding the right people for the job. "It's vital CDOs think critically about what skills and behaviors will be required by the office of the CDO in the short, medium and long term," stated Faria.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.




Tags: big data, Data Analytics, cdo


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