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The Chief Data Officer (CDO)– New Kid in the C-Suite

Jun 02. 2015

As technology continues to rapidly develop and big data becomes an increasingly dominant force in the industry, organizations are beginning to realize the importance of investing in this information by hiring a Chief Data Officer (CDO).

A recent Gartner survey forecasts that 25 percent of all large global organizations will have appointed a CDO by 2015, while others expect 50 percent of all Fortune 500 companies to have a CDO by the end of the year. This evolution indicates large organizations are beginning to acknowledge the business value of data is separate from the systems that generate and consolidate the information.

Until recently, the common practice for organizations has comprised of dividing data responsibilities among various departments that have its own unique data collections and policies for retention. Even though these collections are often stored in the same enterprise data warehouse, the data ownership has consistently overlapped between the IT and Operations departments, with IT personnel responsible for integration and data functions, and Operations personnel in charge of ensuring the integrations run smoothly. In this structure, data ownership is not something either department can claim exclusively.

To address this ownership challenge, the role of the CDO was created to ensure data policy is being implemented properly and to drive the information and analytics strategy toward serving the underlying business objectives. As a board level executive, the CDO will possess the skills to manage and extract value from an organization’s information and help the management team make data-driven decisions. As Big Data projects continue to be the norm in enterprises of all sizes, the CDO will be responsible for controlling data processes while co-existing with the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Technology Officer (CTO), who can concentrate their efforts on applications and technology.

By fully exploiting data, executives can drive their businesses toward greater profitability. The CDO is valuable to an organization in this process as it determines the best ways for activating new, existing and legacy data assets, all while setting standards for digital ethics. This executive restructuring will be crucial for the success of organizations in the future, as rapidly evolving technology will cause data to increasingly dominate the lives of businesses and consumers. Dedicated CIOs and CTOs must be able to ensure complex technological maintenance and optimization, and CDOs need to harness the concurrent data from these technologies to help achieve business goals. The rise of the CDO is a big step towards bringing an organization into the information age and ensuring its leadership in a competitive global economy.