The Top Reason Gartner Says You Need a Chief Data Officer

Loraine Lawson
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Organizations need a chief data officer for one simple reason, according to Gartner Fellow and VP Debra Logan: No one is managing the data.

CEOs beg to differ, Logan acknowledges. After all, they’re certainly spending large amounts of money “managing” data. The problem is, Gartner estimates the average organization wastes as much as $13.5 million per year on data quality problems, including duplicate or old data.  What’s more, most organizations don’t have a clear strategy about how to manage data and information as assets, Gartner contends.

This disconnect is just one of many data problems CBR Online identified from Gartner’s first 2015 Enterprise Information and Master Data Management Summit in London. Coverage from UK publications gives us a glimpse of what audiences can expect from Gartner at the U.S. Business Intelligence and Analytics summit, scheduled for April 1-2 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and most likely the subsequent summits in India and Brazil.

Traditionally, IT has managed data, but that’s not really working for organizations, according to Gartner — or really, almost everyone.

“There is no coherent leadership strategy around corporate assets,” Logan told CIOs in 2014. “As CIOs, you do not own the data.”

If CIOs don’t own the data and can’t make basic decisions about its lifecycle, who can? The traditional answer is “the business users” or “data stewards,” which is really another way of saying the business user. But when it comes to making decisions about data, Logan said the business simply… isn’t.

“When retiring an asset, have you been able to get a straight answer from your business on how long to keep the data?” Logan said. “They aren’t making decisions, and you can’t make the decisions about the data.”

Data Analytics

For Logan and analysts at Gartner, this is why organizations need to appoint a chief data officer. The need for a chief data officer isn’t a new idea, of course, but it does appear to be a major theme for Gartner this year. And they have strong opinions about the role, including:

“Even office rubbish is managed better than information,” Friedman said at the London Summit. “Organizations need a chief data officer to maximize information assets.”

Friedman added that there are about 300 CDOs today, but he predicts that number will double. The official Gartner prediction is that by 2017, 25 percent of organizations will have a CDO. For highly regulated industries such as banking and insurance, that figure will be as high as 50 percent.

Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter and blogger. She currently writes the Integration blog for IT Business Edge, which covers all aspects of integration technology, including data governance and best practices. She has also covered IT/Business Alignment and IT Security for IT Business Edge. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lawson worked at TechRepublic as a site editor and writer, covering mobile, IT management, IT security and other technology trends. Previously, she was a webmaster at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and a newspaper journalist. Follow Lawson at Google+ and on Twitter.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 18, 2015 1:53 PM  says:
Great article, however, I'm intrigued that the terms data and information appear to have been interchanged when they are quite different. For example... “Even office rubbish is managed better than information,” Friedman said at the London Summit. “Organizations need a chief data officer to maximize information assets.” In my opinion data and information are not the same see... Reply
Mar 20, 2015 11:52 AM Loraine Lawson Loraine Lawson  says: in response to
In the past, Gartner and others would use data to refer to structured data and information to refer to what we now call unstructured data. I believe it is a hold-over from that time. Reply
Apr 16, 2015 7:54 AM Meg Aranow Meg Aranow  says:
I agree with the concept but wonder whether it is practical to see this as a discreet job rather than a role that can be a part of existing position. Organizations of all size, with data of varying complexity, need to find a cost-effective way to oversee and manage data quality and use. Reply
Apr 21, 2015 9:47 AM Mark Vreeland Mark Vreeland  says:
Great article and I am advocate for the CDO position. The need to clearly understand the information assets of any organization is poorly managed in today's environment. I have addressed this topic with our clients in healthcare and have written a point of view regarding an Information Collaboration Framework which outlines the establishment of Information Asset Management discipline and with a CDO now there is a position description that can manage the Information Asset Management discipline. Reply
May 5, 2015 7:40 AM ilona Rennert ilona Rennert  says: in response to Meg Aranow
Unless there's someone who's sole responsibility is managing/analyzing/taking action on "big data" efforts, I think it will become a wasted invested for the company. Most employees are already doing multiple jobs, and wont be able to dedicate the time and attention required. It's more of a daunting task than we realize. Reply

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