What is a Chief Data Officer?
It is clear: it seems in Company There is an increasing need for experts and specialized executives who are familiar with data analysis and steer the digital transformation of companies on the right track.
A so-called Chief Data Officer (short: CDO) is such an expert, who usually acts as the right hand of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). While the CIO focuses primarily on technology, the CDO deals with content usage and risk management. But is that enough to introduce a whole new role in business?
CDOs on the advance
The market research firm Gartner announced at the beginning of February 2017 that 2020 around 80 percent of all large companies will have a CDO. For Germany, no data are available on the share of companies with CDO. The fact is, however, that he does not seem to be particularly high. For example, LinkedIn's search is only about 700 hits for Germany. A number that is somewhat distorted because of the fact that this abbreviation is also used for the position Chief Digital Officer.
In addition to the same abbreviation, the two positions have in common that their field of activity is located at the interface between strategy, marketing, technology and innovation. One important difference, however, is that the Chief Data Officer or other C-level manager who focuses solely on the use of data within organizations is becoming increasingly important. The volume of data grows exponentially, so there must be someone who focuses both on the value of this data and on the risks associated with it, such as data violations.
Increasing the importance of the CDO role
In addition to the multinational companies, the role also increases in German mainstream large companies. Especially in the financial and health sector, where many confidential data are used, the value seems irrefutable. This trend is expected to accelerate as 2017 companies increasingly face the challenge of breaking down their data silos and standardizing data information. There is a growing need for an enterprise-wide, unified data strategy based on centralized data management that enables enterprise-wide data usage. If companies or the CDO succeed in giving all employees access to the relevant data, the company can thus create valuable competitive advantages.
This evolution of data usage is indispensable for future-oriented enterprise orientation. Significant competitive advantages are provided by a company-wide data strategy, especially when implemented with a robust platform that offers a unified view of all company data. An analysis platform is no longer just Nice-to-Have, it is a must-have. It is therefore extremely important that a role is created in companies that are responsible for the overall data strategy. This plays an increasingly important role for business success.
Challenges for corporate culture
The new handling of company data, which a CDO brings along, is unfortunately not without challenges. The largest is probably the existing corporate culture. If the CDO really wants to be successful in this role, there is a clear need for organizational change. The departments should transfer control over their data to the CDO, which is then the principal owner and responsible. This measure is necessary to ensure that all departments work with the same data and share the history of the company.
The effects of this change should not be underestimated. In many companies, departments use their own methods to work with business data - such as Excel spreadsheets or cloud and desktop-based analytics software. Often, these systems are not centrally managed and are independent of any other BI software and analysis tools. These are data silos that are often difficult to determine if they contain the most up-to-date and correct information.
A central system, which allows access to all corporate data and is managed centrally, is necessary. In order to introduce this successful behavioral change, the management must initially agree on a transparent organizational structure and a clearly defined role for the CDO. Only then can he work for the entire organization and better understand how data can be used to achieve business goals.
Will the CDO replace the CIO?
Everything that has to do with technology is constantly evolving. The same applies to the role of the CDO and the CIO. However, it seems unlikely that one of the two roles will replace the other. The volume of data grows steadily within organizations, but the use is also becoming more and more diverse. Since this is directly related to the area of the CDO, it is much more logical that the position of the CIO shifts into the role of the agent. He is responsible for the IT infrastructure within the organization, while the CDO plays a crucial role as an exporter and controller of the data analysis strategy. The latter will be responsible for tracking the general business objectives of the organization. It is therefore a clear functionally separate role.
Nevertheless, there is a good chance that these two roles will enter into a partnership to realize all aspects of a company's data-driven initiatives. One thing is clear: Any organization wishing to pursue a successful data strategy must seriously consider appointing a CDO.
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