Understanding the Chief Data Officer Role

Organizations may build their businesses on data, but they don’t necessarily manage it well. That’s why Chief Data Officers (CDO) can play a valuable role in helping the organization value its data across the enterprise.

Chief Data Officers (CDOs) are on the rise in regulated industries. Gartner predicts that 50% of all companies in regulated industries will have a CDO by 2017, according to research conducted by Debra Logan, vice president and Gartner Fellow.

CDOs Help Manage Data as a Corporate Asset

“There is no coherent leadership strategy around corporate assets,” says Ms. Logan. Organizations have different approaches to managing data as a corporate asset, based on Gartner’s survey of CEOs and senior business executives.

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

This is where the CDO can play an important role in how the organization determines its use of new, existing, and legacy information assets. Additionally, CDOs can lead the debate on digital ethics.

The CDO Defined

The CDO is a senior executive who bears responsibility for the firm’s enterprise wide data and information strategy, governance, control, policy development, and effective exploitation. The CDO’s role will combine accountability and responsibility for information protection and privacy, information governance, data quality and data life cycle management, along with the exploitation of data assets to create business value.

Will the CDO and CIO be friend or foe? “They will not, and should not, have overlapping job responsibilities,” Ms. Logan says.  The CDO plays more of a risk, compliance, policy management, and business role. It serves to drive information and analytics strategy, serving a business purpose. CIOs should be involved in designing the role, which may report to them or function in a parallel position reporting to the COO or CFO. In essence, the CDO serves as the glue between the data strategy and the metrics.

A video replay from Ms. Logan’s Gartner Symposium/ITxpo presentation, “Chief Data Officers: Who They Are, What They Do and Why This Role Will Keep Growing” is available on Gartner Events on Demand.