As businesses rely more and more heavily on data and analytics, questions start to arise: does the business need to hire a Chief Data Officer (CDO)? If so, when? What purpose will this person serve?
A CDO is a person who helps a business transform into a data-driven enterprise. The ideal CDO has a good grasp of the “big picture,” and possesses three key qualities: business acumen, marketing expertise, and advanced technical skills. They must know how to coordinate, manage, and protect large amounts of data, as well as how to strategically elevate the importance of that data to the forefront of the business. The CDO would also be working with the other C-level executives, including the CEO, in order to achieve the goal of developing strategies to utilize the data gathered practically for current and future projects. If your business is not looking to become a data-driven business, you probably do not need a CDO, at least not yet.
Sometimes, the CDO has a slightly more specialized focus. TechCrunch provides some examples of types of CDOs they have encountered in the business world that are somewhat more specialized than those needed for a data-driven enterprise:
- Regulatory Compliance-Focused CDO- this type reports to the chief risk officer (CRO) and helps to define the company’s information management strategy to meet compliance.
- Analytics CDO- this type usually reports to the chief information officer (CIO) and is responsible for hiring data scientists and helping to solve big-data problems
- Revenue-Generator CDO- this type often reports to the chief marketing officer (CMO) and is responsible for building out data monetization models
- Data Quality/Governance/Policy CDO- this type usually reports to the CEO and is essentially the “chief fixer of broken data”
Some estimate that about a quarter of companies will have a CDO by 2017 as data collection and application becomes increasingly necessary for success in the business world. CDOs and CIOs are tasked with the responsibility of figuring out what data is most useful and how to use it to the greatest ends. As the business world becomes increasingly digitized, these roles will likewise become increasingly important. However, if your business has not yet reached that point, you may want to hold off on hiring a CDO.
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