This particular prediction will be a little difficult to prove, but I will start off by stating that I am definitely not alone in my opinion about the rise of the CDO. Gartner recently wrote in its second CDO Survey (The State of the Office of the CDO), “Data- and analytics-related crises will continue to plague enterprises that do not implement the chief data officer (CDO) role and the office of the CDO.” This was heartening to see. While this topic has long been under discussion by data nerds like me, it had never really reached the mainstream. I think that’s about to change. Organizations do seem to be waking up (finally) to the strategic value of data.
And at least anecdotally, a lot of our customer CDOs are beginning to flex their muscles, getting visibility all the way up to the board of directors—and even beyond. One CDO recently sought and received approval for his data governance strategy at the board of directors level. And because they have to deal with issues related to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), they went all the way to European Union governmental authorities for approval!
In the same way businesses manage manufacturing parts inventory and track the location of spare parts as critical assets, the idea of managing data as an asset is starting to go mainstream. There is a lot of pressure from CEOs to figure out how to optimize the value of their data. And whether that means figuring out how to package their own data up for resale as a new revenue source, or creating new products and services by combining and analyzing data in new ways, or simply just figuring out how much excess data they have and eliminating millions of dollars of cost by rationalizing the duplicate and stale data, there is a movement afoot to raise data management as a critical business function. The output of that movement is resulting in having someone specific at the C-level take charge of this valuable asset.
Now there certainly will be bumps along the way. And CIOs will want to retain control of the CDO underneath them. But just as the CIO came out from under that shadow of the CFO years ago, the CDO will too rise.
So welcome to the table. Ms. and Mr. CDO. Your time in the spotlight has begun.