Will the Big Data Disruption Impact Corporate Leadership?

Loraine Lawson
Slide Show

Three Big Problems Big Data Will Create in 2014

Experts generally see Big Data as a disruptive technology. Of course, you never know with these things: Sometimes you think something is amazing and it turns out to be more evolutionary than revolutionary.

But if the tech analysts are right and Big Data is a disruptive technology, then it would follow that it could also change the structure of organizations. We saw this happen a few decades ago when the proliferation of enterprise apps and personal computers led to the elevation of the CIO.

It begs the question: Will Big Data elevate data management to a CXO level?


The number of chief data officers doubled last year over the previous year’s number, according to Gartner’s estimates. Granted, that’s only approximately 100 CDOs working in large organizations today, but you get the drift; their ranks are growing, particularly in banking, government and insurance, reports Techday.

Gartner is predicting that by next year, 25 percent of large global organizations will have CDOs.

For their part, CIOs should welcome the rise of the CDO, suggests Gartner Research VP and Fellow Debra Logan.

“CIOs should view the CDO as a peer and partner who can manage data and who has the knowledge, background and skills to do so, which allows CIOs to focus on the more-than-full time job that they already have,” Logan told Techday. “The CDO owns a few things, but coordinates the use of data in other places.”

Another trend that IT should welcome: The CDO position seems to be an executive-level on-ramp for women. Gartner found that over 25 percent of CDOs are women, which is twice as high as the 13 percent of CIOs who are women.

So, on one hand, it sounds like data techies are about to have their day in the sun. On the other hand, a recent study from Infogroup Targeting Solutions found that marketing, which has been a huge factor in Big Data spending, might be putting the brakes on data hires. Out of almost 400 marketers surveyed at the DMA 13 Annual Conference, only 43 percent plan on hiring for data-related positions, compared to 56 percent in 2013.

“Big data is meaningless without manpower,” David McRae, president of Infogroup Targeting Solutions, said in a prepared statement. “While it’s exciting that most companies are making bigger investments in big data, marketers should not forget that it takes people to make sense of the information. Hiring before reaching the analytics stage enables companies to become data-led and act on the data.” 

Who knows? It could be that spending in marketing is falling off because companies are shifting data responsibilities to the CDO, or it could be that marketing divisions are adequately staffed to manage their Big Data problems.

What is worth noting: 54 percent of marketers have already invested in Big Data, and of those early adopters, 61 percent are already seeing positive ROI.



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