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.”
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:
- The CDO must be a senior executive.
- The CDO’s responsibility is to establish an enterprise-wide data and information strategy. That means establishing governance, control, policies, lifecycle management rules, and rules about how the data is used. It also includes ethics, which Gartner says could soon become a major problem.
- The CDO must be independent of the CIO, preferably in a parallel position that reports to the COO or CFO. “They will not, and should not, have overlapping job responsibilities,” Logan said.
- The CDO is a business, not a technology, function. That actually correlates with a power shift that Gartner says is already under way in analytics and BI. Successful organizations recognize this, according to Gartner analyst Ted Friedman.
“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.