There’s a new addition to the C-suite and it’s the Chief Data Officer (CDO).
What is a Chief Data Officer?
This new role is part of the C-suite responsible for anything to do with how data is used and governed across an organization.
Depending on the company, CDOs may also be responsible for:
- Creating a data strategy
- Overseeing digital transformation projects company-wide
- Leveraging data to gain better business insights
As companies bounce back from the pandemic and analyze how they can stay competitive in an ever-changing digital world, the Chief Data Officer (CDO) role has become more in-demand.
CDOs: Then and Now
Although in-demand, it’s a hard role to fill – and a hard role to keep. It’s estimated that the average tenure of a CDO is only two and a half years.
If CDOs want to prove their value to an organization, they need to focus less on traditional things like data gathering, software ownership, and data management.
Instead, there are three areas where CDOs can have the biggest impact:
- Building data-driven cultures
- Improving data governance
- Ensuring data security and privacy
As CDOs achieve these three areas and get cemented deeper into organizations, we expect the role to evolve even further in the future, where CDOs are tasked with analyzing new technology and incorporating AI and machine learning.
So, do you need a CDO? CDOs should be helping create data-driven cultures and this starts at the top.
The Value a CDO Brings
Let’s dive into how they do that and the value the CDO brings.
1. Building Data-Driven Cultures
One key area CDOs are focusing on is ensuring the entire organization is data-driven, and that being data-driven is not just regulated to one department (like IT), as it traditionally has been.
There is often a large disconnect between the technology departments and the various lines of business and this often diminishes the value that the technology platform or department can provide because there is a lack of trust, said Jordan McCoskey, Sr. Manager – Business, Gensquared.
This is why it is crucial that the business and the stakeholders are involved throughout this process so that they are bought into the overall vision of the company.
In this way, the CDO helps ensure that the technology projects tie directly to the business goals and support the business growth.
Another key element of building a data-driven culture is ensuring data literacy across your organization. Simply put, not everyone is “fluent” in speaking data.
A CDO helps the entire organization understand:
- How to use data
- How to approach projects with a data-driven mentality
- How to understand analytics to better understand opportunities
A Chief Data Officer also ensures a data-driven culture starts at the top. If the C-suite is asking their employees to show them the data when making decisions, it encourages a data-driven mentality all the way down the chain.
2. Improving Data Governance
Once your organization enables access to data, then the question of data governance comes into play.
How do you apply and interpret data and look into tools that can automate the process of getting data to constituents?
This is all part of data governance, another area where CDOs are tasked. They’re in charge of knowing where their assets are, how they’re managed and stored, who has access to data, and much more.
Beyond just the platform, there are processes that should be put in place to govern the data information which will lead to reliable outputs and reports as well as keep sensitive information safe from those who should not be accessing it, which will increase the confidence of the business, said McCoskey.
A key aspect of data governance is decentralization and data democratization. It’s typical to see organizations have separate, siloed divisions of technical resources that are in charge of using and deciphering data. This siloed approach doesn’t empower the entire organization to become more data-driven.
The goal is to think about how to provide access to data to everyone in the organization. It’s how do you give access to the average person who’s not technical? And how do you help them understand how to use it, said Siconolfi.
3. Ensuring Data Security and Privacy
The third area is managing data security and privacy. This includes everything from being aware of new data-centric laws in your geography to managing data breaches and ensuring security within and external to your organization. This becomes especially important as more people across your organization get access to data.
What the future holds for the CDO Role
As the digital world changes, we’ll continue to see the rise of the CDO role. However, if you leave with one takeaway from this piece, it’s this:
Before worrying about having to hire a CDO now, focus on what your challenges are as a business and what resources you need to solve them. Hiring a new C-suite role may not be your first step, but evaluating if your company is ready to have a data-driven culture could be.
Want to learn more? Download our data-driven checklist
…and find out how to start transforming your organization into a data-driven one.