4 Steps to Staff the Office of the CDO

Focus role and hiring decisions on digital business priorities and goals.

The office of the chief data officer (CDO) frequently suffers from limited staffing options, which in turn, hinder its ability to achieve organization-wide objectives.

According to Gartner’s annual CDO survey, respondents indicate that this limitation is due to budget constraints, approval of the office’s responsibilities, or difficulties in getting the right people. As a result, identifying, prioritizing and justifying staffing decisions for the office are key activities for the CDO. After all, by properly staffing the office, CDOs will increase their chances of delivering business outcomes to their companies.

“CDOs are far from being alone in coping with budget constraints,” says Mario Faria, research managing vice president. “However, given that they are expected to leverage existing staff in other business units, the constraints can be challenging. Data and analytics leaders should focus role and hiring decisions on digital business priorities and goals.”

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Gartner has identified four key steps to staff the office of the CDO:

  1. Associating the Proper Job Roles
    The CDO’s primary objectives should form the basis of the main areas of responsibility and subsequent staffing decisions. These should be mapped to:
  2. Identify the Relevant Activities for Office’s Responsibilities
    Typically, the office of the CDO has three main objectives: managing the information assets, delivering insights to business to improve decision making, and generating incremental business value. The CDO is the senior executive responsible for fostering value creation from the use of both the organization’s data assets, and the external data ecosystem. The CDO is also the head of all enterprise analytics and decision making affecting analytics, directing analytics processes and the use of analytics to drive innovation and enterprise objectives.Crucially, the CDO is the most-senior executive responsible for aligning data policy and administration with relevant regulatory, legal and ethical mandates.Prioritize Staffing Decisions by Managing the information assets: This objective requires the function of an office of the CDO, the commitment of information governance leaders, master data management managers, information stewards and data quality leaders. Other titles include information architects and content management specialists.

    Delivering insights to business to improve decision making: This responsibility involves two roles: one that designs and builds continuous operational intelligence into business analytics and processes; and data science leaders who create insights from data with a variety of analytical techniques and solve data science problems.

    Generating incremental business value: This requires the support of two titles: an information strategy manager responsible for measuring and communicating the value of information assets; and a leader responsible for monetizing information using analytics, and driving measurable business value).

  3. Develop “Virtual Organizations” Where Needed
    Virtual organizations – composed of a blend of direct and indirect reports – offer CDOs a way to extend the effectiveness of their office and should be used to increase the resources needed by that office. To get buy-in from other areas of the business, and establish and run a virtual organization, CDOs need to identify the shared outcomes that other leaders will achieve. “By showing how everyone will benefit from a shared effort first, and communicating that progress through time, CDOs will be able to get the support that they need,” Faria says.
  4. Plan for the Roles and Skill Sets Needed in the Next Three to 18 Months
    A well-thought-out personnel roadmap is paramount to identifying the resources needed for the future. Defining what the organization should look like in the short, medium and long term will help secure a commitment from senior management to expand the office, because stakeholders will have visibility of planned programs and projects.“Most importantly, dedicate time to discussions and interactions with your team, so that everyone is committed to the expansion of your office of the CDO,” concludes Faria. “The right use of communication will allow you to overcome any internal resistance you might face during the changes you are making.”

Gartner clients can learn more in the report “Staffing the Office of the CDO”, by Mario Faria, et al.

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