Rise and Fall of the Chief Data Officer

With the rise of reliance on data and analytics, there needs to be someone whose focus is pinpointed on these numbers. In some cases, the Chief Data Officer (CDO) is the ambitious individual who is taking on this responsibility. In an article for InformationWeek, Lisa Morgan explores what precisely makes the CDO successful or a complete failure.

The most likely organizations to employ a CDO are those that are large in structure and operate in highly regulated industries. Smaller organizations can get away with dividing the responsibilities of the CDO’s role to other positions, such as the CIO. A Forrester survey unveiled that 45 percent of the respondents appointed a CDO and that “top performing” companies were 65 percent more likely to appoint a person to the role. More mature companies tend to lack the right skills and tools to uncover all of the hidden data because they were not originally established to do so. A CDO is the key to leading them to the data minefield right under their noses. CDOs are the people who understand the business and the opportunities. They can translate the often complex mathematics and algorithms into items that can be understood by the business at large.

Currently, it appears as though CDOs are hired to do boardroom-level CIO tasks. This indicates that there is a skill gap in CIOs that needs addressed. This role is becoming a necessity for many organizations.

A great CDO will be able to effectively implement change, a task that is often difficult because humans resist the different. They need to have the authority and ownership to do this, or their position is a waste. Additionally, they should be seen as equal peers to other members involved in the C-suite.

Reaching competency in data-related issues is an arduous task, which is why so many organizations invest in CDOs. However, this will only prove effective if the CDO’s position is clearly defined from the beginning. Additionally, do not just hire a CDO because you want the status in your organization. Maybe they are truly not needed and will only deter from more pressing affairs. Generally speaking, a CDO is hired to fill the gaps.

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