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Is it time to have a Chief Data Officer?

June 15, 2015

Trends & Views

In the past few years, businesses have been overwhelmed by huge amounts of data and it is quite certain that this situation will continue to escalate in the near future. Considering that the value and importance of data are beyond critical for the performance of any company in the modern business environment, the need for a different approach has become quite evident and pressing. This new strategy should focus on managing data as a valuable asset that can (and should) be used to extract value. So, the question is who should plan and implement the necessary strategy? But, of course, the Chief Data Officer!

This is a relatively new job description that seems to become more and more popular in the business world. One of the priorities of a Chief Data Officer is to collect all the data sources that exist inside an organization or a business, take advantage of the numerous available analytics tools and develop a comprehensive strategy that will be based on a clear vision and will incorporate all individual aspects and elements related to business data. Another important detail is that the role of Chief Data Officer is not directly related to technology, but rather a result of business concerns and needs! Besides, let us not forget that up until recently, business data were being handled by the IT, the Legal or the HR department.

Today, the vast majority of businesses are allocating the responsibilities related to business data to different departments. As a result, these departments end up having their own data pools, their own policies on data maintenance and usage, etc. This approach leads to separate data storage systems inside the same business, even if all the aforementioned data pools are transferred to the same storage area at the end! Needless to say that this approach does now allow businesses to take full advantage of their data and convert them to sales.

Perhaps, the job description of a Chief Data Officer sounds unfamiliar, and many could argue that such a role is required only in large organizations or multinational corporations with complex and multi-level needs of significant size. Surprisingly, though, based on a survey conducted by Gartner last winter on the emerging role of CDO, only 17% of large organizations and corporations would have a Chief Data Officer in their ranks by the end of 2014!

This survey also revealed that, at this time, 36% of the relevant job positions are offered by companies conducting business in the financial industry. This finding makes perfect sense if you consider that this industry is characterized by stricter regulatory requirements regarding data. High percentages of similar job positions exist in the health industry and the public sector.

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