Chief data officers growing in number and influence

Opportunities and challenges abound

So what is driving growth of the CDO role?

For one thing, data is now easier to collect and analyze than ever before, and companies have realized they can use that data to gain a competitive edge, but only if they are prepared to manage it.

“More organizations are realizing the enormous value in data and that they need to have the processes, structures and leadership in place to integrate and best leverage it to their business advantage,” said Doug Gray, senior vice president of engineering at Indeed.com.

“As data becomes more robust, organizations are realizing that deploying a business analytics platform is not a nice-to-have anymore but instead a must-have, and creating one role responsible for the centralized ownership of the overall data strategy will be critical to an organization’s success,” said Kohl. “The rise of [the CDO] role represents the evolution of business, as the success of a company can now be determined by how it implements data to grow and compete within the market.”

But CDOs also face challenges. Gartner recently predicted[4] only 50% of CDOs will be successful by the end of 2019. To succeed, CDOs need to implement the right strategies to make holistic data-driven decisions. Some of that depends on the maturity of the business and how it’s handled data in the past.

“With many smaller, younger companies, roles across departments and functions have a data component to them,” said Gray. “However, with older and larger companies some of the challenges can include understanding the many disparate data streams flowing into the organization as well as convincing leadership of the necessity of data centric strategy.”

Corporate culture can also be an obstacle. To truly be successful, there must be an organizational shift where departments relinquish control to allow the CDO to be the sole, centralized owner of the data. This behavioral change within organizations will ensure that all departments employ the same data and information to tell the organization’s story, according to Kohl.

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