The Chief Data Officer… Maybe your organization already has one or maybe you’re thinking about hiring one soon. It is a title that used to raise eyebrows, but now it's becoming the norm, and for good reason. This year’s Gartner Enterprise Information & Master Data Management Summit1 has an entire – and brand new – track dedicated to the role of the CDO. In it, Gartner will reveal the findings of its 2015 CDO Survey and explain the increasing value of the role.
It’s impossible to ignore that within the business world, digital transformations are also becoming the norm. With organizations recognizing data processing and Master Data Management as crucial elements of this process, the CDO is stepping in to oversee the task. Here are a few numbers:
- 45% of businesses and governments worldwide have appointed a CDO
- 16% of businesses worldwide plan on incorporating a CDO into their hierarchy within the next 12 months
- 92% of CIOs in the UK are “calling out for a CDO role to release the data pressures they face and enable a corporate-wide approach to data management”.2
But what do they do? And does your business need one?
Wikipedia defines a Chief Data Officer as someone “responsible for enterprise-wide governance and utilization of information as an asset, via data processing, analysis, data mining, information trading and other means.”3
What this means is that the CDO’s role includes defining strategic data priorities, optimizing revenue through data and generally advocating for data as a strategic business asset. Equally important, the CDO becomes the organization's ‘transformer’ charged with taking control and seeing through the sweeping changes demanded by new digital strategies.
As we said in a previous blog post (3 myths of Digital Transformation), it should really be the CEO who steers the business through its digital transformation. However, that’s in an ideal world and few CEOs (or other top-level executives for that matter) have either the spare time or the digital knowledge to drive such an initiative. As Louis Columbus of Forbes’ magazine puts it:
“What is becoming abundantly clear – CEOs, CMOs, and CIOs each have their place, but cannot bridge the gap when it comes to an enterprise’s digital transformation.”4
Not only can a CDO build a strong foundation for change by focusing solely on creating a digital mindset throughout the organization, they can also champion the concept of a digital transformation at every level of the business, from the very bottom all the way to the top.
So let’s ask that question again. Do businesses really need a Chief Data Officer?
By now, the answer should be a resounding YES. With such a high correlation between high-performing companies and those with CDOs, companies looking to thrive during the current era of digital transformation need a dedicated digital innovator – someone who understands the starring role that data plays in the success of a business and who can provide clear data leadership.
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 Gartner UK Event – Gartner US Event