Staffing Strategies for the Chief Data Officer

Follow these steps to map enterprise information objectives to roles and responsibilities.

It’s an increasingly common scenario: A large company with its sights set on gaining maximum strategic value from digital assets hires a chief data officer (CDO).

Just as common is this wrinkle in the scenario: The CDO office is short on organizational structure — and resources.

CDOs are entrusted with a relatively new purview that’s both critical and broad in scope. Yet, “Some of the job roles needed to accomplish the office’s responsibilities may not exist in the organization or are currently staffed under a leader who is not part of the office of the CDO,” explained Mario Faria, managing vice president at Gartner.

Read related article: First 100 Days of a Chief Data Officer.

Map data objectives to roles

To get started, CDOs can take the important first step of creating an accurate picture of staffing needs and priorities. Next, map the primary objectives to top-level functional roles. Following are three broad categories of objectives that might fall under the CDO’s purview and several examples of functional job roles:

Objective: Manage information assets

  • Information governance leader
  • Information steward leader
  • Records manager
  • Data sourcing manager

Objective: Deliver insights to improve business’s decision making

  • Chief analytics officer
  • Chief data scientist
  • BI & analytics leader

Objective: Generate incremental business value

  • Algorithm program manager
  • Information product manager

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Develop virtual organizations

In keeping with the fluid applications for data, some functions vital to the success of the CDO office might straddle or reside in other parts of the enterprise.

One approach is to develop virtual organizations, with combinations of direct and indirect reports (such as employees from IT) to augment resources while engaging other parts of the business in enterprise information strategy. For example, information stewards — senior business users who possess information and analytics acumen — can work with information governance leaders to recommend and enforce user policies.

Create a roadmap for future needs

CDOs new to the role will likely uncover gaps in current capabilities, but it’s also important for them to assess what will be needed to drive the business objectives of tomorrow. They’ll need to develop proposals for staffing and budget needs in the near term, as well as 18 months out. It will also be necessary to include a business case for the ROI that the leadership team can expect from funding requirements.

“Be prepared to dedicate time to staff discussions and interactions with your team, so that everyone is committed to the expansion of the office of the CDO,” said Mr. 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 read more in the report Staffing the Office of the CDO by Mario Faria, et al.

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