Chief Data Officer in a Company – to Be or Not to Be?


In a modern data-driven world, data lies at the very heart of every process and especially every successful business.

Data helps in answering many questions about your products, services, customers, competitors, markets, trends, and much more. However, to get the information to analyze you need to carefully gather it all over the World Wide Web, social media, and various apps. Though today it’s not anymore a problem to scrape all this data, its management and analysis may be challenging.

Looking at data as a valuable enterprise asset, lots of companies today are eager to seize maximum opportunities and mitigate risks by hiring Chief Data Officers (CDOs) to make it all in the best possible way.

What a Chief Data Officer Is?

A Chief Data Officer supervises a range of corporate data-related functions, ensuring that the company gets the most from the information gathered for business needs. As a rule, the key responsibility of a CDO is to define the data strategy to effectively meet the current company needs, but it’s vital to ensure it will also open up the possibilities for business to derive even more value far into the future.

Let’s have a kind of flashback and look and some statistics.

The first Chief Data Officer was appointed back in 2002 by Capital One. Only a few companies followed its example in the next decade. However, the Big Data Executive Survey 2020 revealed that 57% of senior Fortune 1000 organizations had appointed CDOs.

According to Forrester Research, 54% of the companies with 10% or more year-over-year revenue growth have a CDO, while only a third of the businesses with less than 4% revenue growth have such an officer.

Obviously, a skilled Chief Data Officer is able to bring the competitive advantage to the company he works for and in times of digitalization and innovation hiring such an expert hits the mainstream.

The Role of CDO in the Company

The chief data officer is primarily responsible for data management, ensuring its quality, and creating data strategy.

Depending on the type of the company, he can also be involved in data analysis, the process of drawing insights from the information gathered, and business intelligence. However, these functions can fall to IT or analytical departments, if they operate in the company.

CDO is a senior executive in charge of data utilization and distribution across the company and its departments. Thus, he helps coordinate data architecture and governance. He should make sure

  • that the right data is gathered,
  • that the information is processed in the right way,
  • that the processed data is of the right quality,
  • that it goes the right way and reaches whoever it concerns,
  • that the data is safe and stored in the right place.

Figuring out what works and what does not, a Chief Data Officer helps align the investments with the general business strategy of the company to increase its profit even more.

How a Chief Data Officer can Add Value to Business

So what are the benefits of hiring a Chief Data Officer?

CDO makes your business more competitive

Gaining insights about your customers, their needs, buying habits, and preferences, a CDO advises how to satisfy their needs in the best possible way. In the business world the same works for competitors, studying their behavior and strategies, a Chief Data Officer can work out a strategy to beat them at their own game.

CDO breaks down data silos

Lots of companies have the problem that the departments are reluctant to share the information they have and fight for the data rather than share it. As a senior executive, a CDO can make sure the data is distributed in the right way and all relevant players have access to the necessary details that may impact the critical operational or business decisions.

CDO brings meaning to the details

Chief Data Officers being experts in data matters find the trends and gain the insights that the untrained specialists may fail to uncover. So, a Chief Data Officer can save hours in production time—billions in losses—or days in travel.

CDO supports the C-suite team

Due to the profound data understanding, comprehension of its ins and outs, a Chief Data Officer can help your Chief Marketing, Information, and even Financial Officers, make better use of the information and encourage the executive to use data in more meaningful ways.

Challenges for Chief Data Officers

It’s not an easy job and naturally, Chief Data officers face multifaceted challenges.

On the one hand, a Chief Data Officer should not necessarily be an expert in technology and algorithms, but for sure he should be a data evangelist, able to drive a data agenda. It makes a challenge for the companies to define their requirements to CDO and for the candidates to show the right set of skills to be hired.

Another important challenge to mention is the scope of work, at times the expectations from a CDO are too high, but the role needs to undergo a reality check by drawing a clear roadmap of how certain goals are going to be achieved.

With the data value comes the responsibility for its governance, it’s vital to clearly establish who owns the information and who is responsible for it.

Final Thoughts

A modern company that is eager to grow in the contemporary highly competitive world, should definitely consider hiring a Chief Data Officer.

Since we have already mentioned above, that to find a good CDO may be a challenge, DataOx is ready to make things a bit easier for companies, providing them with the necessary data for analysis effectively and on time. Check the opportunities with our expert, schedule a free consultation.

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