A chief data officer or a CDO is essentially a data manager who oversees the firm-wide governance and exploits digital information assets. The CDO role first appeared in the early 2000s, when the primary responsibility was to focus on compliance and data governance for the organization. However, with the advent of new technologies, the role of CDO today manifests through systems and strategies, such as analytics, AI, data mining, and business intelligence.
CDOs today are responsible for identifying and acting on opportunities to improve data analytics and systems that may include predicting consumer trends from different data sources. In addition, A CDO also takes care of business data flowing across the organization and enables key stakeholders to make insightful, data-driven decisions.
As more businesses continue to adopt digital transformation strategies, a chief data officer is also the one who takes the necessary measures to establish a data culture within the organization. And, as data-driven decisions become the norm, this senior executive must also define a robust data governance strategy and ensure the organization stays compliant with data privacy laws.
Why CDO Matters for Digital Enterprises?
As enterprises and customers continue to generate enormous amounts of data, businesses must make sense of all the information to create monetary value out of it. It is data that helps identify consumer behavior, pinpoints issues in business processes, or enables finance teams to make accurate forecasts.
While there are tools that help businesses to generate these important insights, most organizations struggle to feed the right quality of data to these systems. The reports and insights from such low-quality data offer no real business value. As a result, most analytics or business intelligence investments fail to generate expected returns on investment.
Gartner predicts that through 2025, 80% of the organizations looking to scale digital business will fail because of not taking a modern approach to data and analytics governance. And, by 2024, even though most organizations will attempt trust-based data-sharing programs, only 15% will succeed and outperform their peers on most business metrics. The statistics clearly show that any business wanting to thrive in the information age needs someone to lead or get heavily involved in the business’s data assets.
That’s where a CDO plays a pivotal role. As an integral part of the C-suite, CDO spearheads data and information strategy to ensure data quality, data management, data analytics, and data governance. A 2021 Gartner CDO survey shows that organizations where CDOs lead or involve heavily in digital transformation initiatives are more likely to outperform on innovation and more effective in producing business value.
If you’re considering hiring a CDO for your enterprise, here are a couple of ways the chief executive can add value to your business:
- CDOs will help you break down information silos between departments by integrating disparate data sources.
- They will bring meaning to your business data by defining and implementing a robust data architecture that enables a single-source-of-truth.
- They will foster a culture where data is seen as a valuable asset that can be shared and processed freely between teams to make informed decisions.
- A CDO will also stay abreast of ever-changing data privacy regulations and ensure that only authorized individuals can access sensitive business or customer data.
- Additionally, the executive will develop a robust analytics infrastructure and a solid reporting system to offer actionable insights to decision-makers.
Also read: Steps to Improving Your Data Architecture
The Role of CDOs in the New Normal
The pandemic forced many organizations to adopt new ways of working as an increasing number of employees continued working from home. As businesses adjust to these changing work environments, new responsibilities have emerged for CDOs to effectively respond to crises and prepare the organization for future disruptions. Following are some of the new priorities for CDOs post-pandemic.
Ensuring business continuity
For a business to continue functioning in these trying times, CDOs must ensure that data collection and analysis happens in real-time so that stakeholders can make informed decisions. In addition, data leaders must continue revisiting the business continuity plans and core data platforms to ensure the reliability and authenticity of all the data sources.
Ascertain data protection and privacy
As more employees continue working from home, this new working model also exposes the organization’s critical data asset to new attacks. In addition, remote work also poses a risk of leaking sensitive customer data such as personally identifiable information (PII) into the hands of riskier employees. CDOs, therefore, must collaborate with the IT security teams to put control over the key data assets. They must also set up policies and permissions to allow only limited access to data for remote employees.
Building new digital capabilities
For CDOs, the new normal is the right time to build new digital capabilities. From developing 360-degree customer views and modernizing data architecture to shifting to cloud, CDOs can take the necessary digital initiatives to prepare the organization for the future while responding to the current crisis.
Reducing operational costs
Operating lean is helping most businesses to navigate through these unprecedented times. CDOs can help organizations to implement this approach. They can leverage data and collaborate with CFO to reprioritize resource allocation and develop plans to invest in new and more secure opportunities.
Planning for future crises
COVID-19 was a wake-up call for most organizations to take their crisis plan more seriously. As a new responsibility, CDOs must invest in new capabilities and chalk out a solid crisis plan to ensure organizational resiliency against similar events in the future.
Have You Hired a CDO Yet?
The role of CDO isn’t limited to gathering, storing, and securing organizational data now. As data and analytics continue to become critical for decision making, these leaders focus mainly on transforming the business processes, customer-facing solutions, optimizing the digital experience, and decentralizing IT with new digital business models. The pandemic has further reinforced the importance of this executive role in modern digital businesses that rely on data-driven decisions. In the information age where data is king, CDOs will remain a critical player in determining the success of organizations.
If your data assets are mismanaged, or if you want to develop a data culture and make data and analytics a part of all your business processes, you need a senior data leader.
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