List: Businesses definitely need a CDO…or do they?
The C-suite has been expanding to bring in new roles that are designed to help deal with the issues stemming from evolvingtechnology.
One of the latest roles is that of the Chief Data Officer, a position that at least 25% of Fortune 500 companies now have in place in their organisations.
The role has been spawned out of the rise of big data, with businesses struggling to keep up with regulatory and technological changes. In short, the role has been designed to help businesses get the most out of their data.
The CDO is a new role and the priorities of the job are somewhat shrouded in mystery, but worry not, this article will help to clear up any misunderstandings about the CDO role.
1. The CDO role is all about IT
The CDO role is much more tightly linked to marketing and the business. The CDO is typically positioned as a role that can help the business use data more effectively by giving all lines of business a kind of data DNA.
While there are plenty of technology requirements that the role has responsibility for, the job is more about enabling the rest of the business to use tools.
This means that the role requires an understanding of what the business requires in terms of tools and capabilities, what data it needs to access, when and where.
Being more closely linked to the business will help the CDO to understand the requirements of the workers, and this should then be fed back to IT and the CIO to make it happen. The CDO shouldn’t be tied down with integrating technologies into the existing IT stack.
2. Businesses need a CDO
This one is up for debate.
Clearly some organisations feel that there is a need for a Chief Data Officer inside their organisation, but many will just leave the tasks of overall data management within an organisation to IT and the CIO.
These roles are capable of handling what the CDO does, but given the number of other jobs that both IT and CIOs have to do, it makes sense that there is another person responsible for these tasks.
According to research from Veritas, 85% of data is considered useless, something that could result in organisations around the world wasting $3.3 trillion. The point of highlighting this is to show that perhaps IT and the CIO haven’t done a particularly good job of looking after data.
On the other hand it should be remembered that the CDO is not a mandatory role and there are ways around having one. For example, the upcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation does not enforce the CDO role on companies of all sizes.
3. The CDO just a gimmick
Again, up for debate
A strong argument could be made for the on-going existence of the Chief Data Officer, especially when taking into account the major big data management problem that is impacting businesses ability to get value from it.
However, it should really come down to business strategy and whether there is a requirement for one. If, for example, the business is small and it capably manages its own data, knows what it is, where it is, and who is using it, then the CDO may not be a good fit.
As with any strategic decision there needs to be considerations about the purpose – will the role be a long term strategic move to become more data centric, or does the business just need a point in the right direction so that the CIO and IT can move the business forward? If the latter is the case then perhaps using a consulting firm would be a better fit than to appoint a CDO on £200,000 a year.
4. The CDO deals with all data
The CDO is there to democratise data, this means putting it into the hands of the right people.
Not only is it about putting data into the hands of the right people, but it’s about putting the right data in their hands.
Once an effective set of rules and policies are in place then the CDO should be able to take a more hands off approach when it comes to regulatory requirements. Simply put, rules and policies can be set and automated and adjusted when required.
This means that lines of business can’t do anything they want to with data, they will come up restrictions to stop them from doing what they shouldn’t be.
As said earlier, the CDO isn’t about IT but the role does help to identify what technologies should be in use.
5. The CDO and CDO are the same job
That isn’t a typo, it is simply pointing out that the Chief Data Officer and Chief Digital Officer have the same acronym. It does not, however, mean they are the same role.
The Chief Digital Officer’s role sees it work much more closely with the Chief Marketing Officer as it helps the business to digitally transform. The Chief Data Officer meanwhile focuses much more on data sharing, collaboration, compliance and security, an efficient management of resources and identifying new sources of data.
While both may be working towards a common goal there are clear definitions which should be identified.
Confusion about the two roles and what they should be responsible for will only lead to conflict between them that may result in both making decisions on the same area. Clearly defined roles will help to avoid this.