What Are Chief Data Officers And Why Are They So Popular?

Why do companies need a CDO?


We are in a business landscape where new C-Suite positions seem to be created on a daily basis. One of the most popular is the Chief Data Officer (CDO), somebody who is charge of the data quality, warehousing and security within a business.

Whilst some have criticized the number of roles at the top of companies, believing that rises in the number of people around the top table means that the roles of each member are confused. However, few who understand the role of the CDO would claim that this is not an important position within any modern company.

The benefits of this role are not simply organizational, they do not just makes things easier through having a better quality of data, they are likely to improve the overall performance of the company. For instance, in a survey by Information Week, it was found that 45% of companies surveyed had a CDO and of this number, 54% experienced 10% revenue growth or higher. This represents a clear trend - If you have a CDO, your company is more likely to do well.

Their role fits across the entire organization, making sure that the data being used is being correctly stored and analyzed in a useful and secure way. Alongside this, they are responsible for the validity and accuracy of the data being stored. This validity of data is  a key component to business success as Ian Thomas mentioned when looking at marketing data, inaccurate data means lost sales and reputation.

We have also seen that the security of data is of paramount important to companies and neglecting this often leads to catastrophic results, like we have seen with TalkTalk. At present the anger of their customers is being directed at Dido Harding. As the CEO this is valid, not only because she is the face of company leadership, but also because she should have been in charge of appointing somebody to effectively protect the company’s data.

Having somebody in place to take charge of data as one of their primary roles means that the other members of the leadership team can concentrate on what their roles actively involve. Due to the technicalities of the role, it is not something that should be left to traditional leadership roles to work through. As the landscape shifts so quickly, it is necessary to have an intrinsic knowledge of current trends and practices, due to the people who are trying to access this data illegally are doing exactly the same thing.

One of the surprising aspects of the Information Week survey is that only 45% of the companies asked had a CDO given its increasing role in modern data driven companies today. The role should be understood and implemented by not only the world’s major companies, but by any company that values its data, the privacy of its customers and revenue growth.


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