The role of the chief data officer (CDO) will become ever more important as the pace of digitalization intensifies. Their challenge will be to complement the role of the CIO, modernize information governance and deliver revenue from data assets.
Digital leadership requires information leadership. If the CIO plans to lead digital initiatives at the board level — as many CEOs are expecting — it will involve a dramatic widening of traditional CIO responsibilities to manage data and information governance, as well as using analytics in new ways to generate business value. Yet, 40% of CIOs cite information and analytics as their biggest talent gap.
To generate business value from digital sources, the CDO will need to move the organization away from older models of information governance. These are typically centralized and produce highly structured, easy-to- process data that is used to look backward and report mainly for administrative purposes.
Value-generating opportunities are based increasingly on unstructured, harder-to- process information, such as multimedia and social data. The pace of change in modern business makes traditional backward-looking reporting less and less valuable. The CDO will have the time and expertise to pioneer forward-looking predictive analytics, and the information governance that supports it, in a way that most CIOs cannot. A track record in successful change management initiatives will be an advantage.
CIO and CDO must cooperate
It’s likely that many new CDOs will come from within the business, rather than being an external appointment. The CDO role needs to demonstrate they understand the business, and champion the role of data in improving specific business outcomes. Most successful new CDOs are acting as a business partner for the CIO, while taking on the growing burden of managing and monetizing data.
Ms. Debra Logan is a VP and Gartner Fellow in Gartner Research. She covers strategic information management and the office of the CDO.