Chief data officer

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A chief data officer (CDO) is a corporate officer responsible for enterprise wide governance and utilization of information as an asset, via data processing, analysis, data mining, information trading and other means. CDOs report mainly to the chief executive officer (CEO). Depending on the area of expertise this can vary. CDO is a member of the executive management team and manager of enterprise-wide data processing & data mining.

Role definition[edit]

The Chief Data Officer title shares its abbreviation with the Chief Digital Officer but the two are not the same job. The Chief Data Officer has a significant measure of business responsibility for determining what kinds of information the enterprise will choose to capture, retain and exploit and for what purposes.[1] However, the similar-sounding Chief Digital Officer or Chief Digital Information Officer often does not bear that business responsibility, but rather is responsible for the information systems through which data is stored and processed.

History and evolution[edit]

The role of manager for data processing was not elevated to that of senior management prior to the 1980s. As organizations have recognized the importance of information technology as well as business intelligence, data integration, master data management and data processing to the fundamental functioning of everyday business, this role has become more visible and crucial. This role includes defining strategic priorities for the company in the area of data systems and opportunities, identifying new business opportunities pertaining to data, optimizing revenue generation through data, and generally representing data as a strategic business asset at the executive table.

With the rise in service-oriented architectures (SOA), large-scale system integration, and heterogeneous data storage/exchange mechanisms (databases, XML, EDI, etc.), it is necessary to have a high-level individual, who possesses a combination of business knowledge, technical skills, and people skills, guide data strategy. Besides the revenue opportunities, acquisition strategy, and customer data policies, the chief data officer is charged with explaining the strategic value of data and its important role as a business asset and revenue driver to executives, employees, and customers. This contrasts with the older view of data systems as mere back-end IT systems.

More recently, with the adoption of data science the Chief Data Officer is sometimes looked upon as the key strategy person either reporting to the Chief Strategy Officer or serving the role of CSO in lieu of one. This person has the responsibility of measurement along various business lines and consequently defining the strategy for the next growth opportunities, product offerings, markets to pursue, competitors to look at etc. This is seen in organizations like Chartis, AllState and Fidelity

Early CDO appointments[edit]

Notable example CDOs[edit]

  • John Bottega was CDO for CitiGroup's Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB) unit, and later for the New York Federal Reserve.[5]
  • Philip Bourne is associate director for data science at the National Institutes of Health [6]
  • Usama Fayyad was the first CDO for Yahoo! in 2004-2009 and he is now CDO of Barclays in London since 2013—he showed how the role can generate value by creating a $500 million new revenue source based on behavioral Targeting of Ads for Yahoo! in 2008.[7]
  • Maria Villar was appointed CDO at Fannie Mae and Justin Magruder was appointed CDO at Freddie Mac in 2007, in the months leading up to the 2008 Credit Crisis to assist the GSE's in implementing new financial control frameworks for risk management. Beth Hiatt succeeded Maria and Diane Schmidt succeeded Justin in 2009.[8]
  • Henri Verdier was appointed in September 2014 Administrateur Général des Données (CDO) of the French Administration, probably the first CDO of a Country.[9]
  • Zachary Townsend was appointed the inaugural CDO of California by Jerry Brown in July 2016.[10] The role has wide authority around transparency, efficiency and accountability in state operations.[11]

Industry and geographic trends in CDOs[edit]

Many major Banks and Insurance companies, subsequent to the credit crisis of 2008, created the CDO role to ensure data quality and transparency for regulatory and risk management as well as analytic reporting.

Various branches of US Government have CDOs. The CDO role is far more common in the United States than elsewhere. However several European banks have a CDO.

As of November 2016, Gartner estimates there are 2000 people in the world whose titles include "chief data officer." There are about 7000 data or information management and/or analytics VPs and above in the world. And some 4000 individuals carry "data officer" (including CDOs) as part of their title but who may not necessarily be heads of data & analytics in their organization.

Highlights from Gartner's 2nd Annual CDO Survey (2016) produced by CDO Research & Advisory Team:

  • The average CDO has been in the role 2.4 years. 14% have been in the role 4-6 years, and 3% have been in the role seven years or longer.
  • 54% of CDOs have an organizational structure called the "Office of the CDO."
  • 41% of CDOs were created by the CEO; 24% by the Board.
  • Between 54-69% of CDOs have organization-wide responsibility.
  • 62% of CDOs said they were "partners" or "trusted allies" with the CIO. 38% have a more transactional or at-risk relationship.
  • More than 70% of superiors, subordinates and peers view the CDO as a trusted partner or change agent.
  • 76% of CDOs are working with the Board and Senior Management to define the digital business vision. 39% of CDOs are corporate officers and 39% regularly participate Executive Committee meetings. 46% are involved in value/revenue generation and 71% are involved in new initiatives.
  • The #1 priority cited by 46% of CDOs is value creation/revenue generation (not data governance or compliance).
  • 50% of CDOs are focused exclusively on crisis mitigation and short-term fixes.
  • Budget for the Office of the CDO averages $6.5MM, with 2/3 expecting an increase in 2017.

Gartner CDO-related predictions from its 2nd Annual CDO Survey (2016):

  • By 2020, 15% of successful chief data officers will move to CEO, COO, CMO or other C-level positions in the enterprise
  • By 2021, 75% of CDOs will have a wide range of data governance and analytics initiative responsibilities
  • By 2021, 90% of CDOs will be responsible or involved in the ethical use of enterprise data
  • By 2021, the Office of the CDO will be seen as a key business operational function comparable to IT, HR, and Finance
  • Through 2021, achieving a “functioning” level of maturity is table stakes; competitive advantage requires higher levels of maturity
  • Through 2021, successful CDOs will be tasked with key business initiatives that will require a broad set of change management skills including communication, collaboration, and consensus-building
  • Through 2021, successful CDOs will be deeply involved in the planning and execution of most strategic digital business initiatives.
  • Through 2021 successful CDOs will be spending more than 70% of their time on driving new solutions
  • By 2021 60% of CDOs will have revenue generation as their #1 priority

Other Gartner research on the CDO role: 1500+ research notes through 2016.

Gartner webinars on the CDO role (replays available on demand):

Professional skills and educational background in CDOs[edit]

To better harness values of data, more and more organizations are establishing Chief Data Officer (CDO) position. The professional skills of CDOs are rather diverse because CDOs are expected to undertake a variety of roles in their companies including enterprise data architect, data quality and governance manager, business strategy leader, business regulation compliance officer, etc. CDO is an emerging research field, few studies have been done on CDO. This paper tries to profile what are the key professional skills and education background that current CDOs have by studying their resumes on LinkedIn using topic modeling technique. This work is a step forward towards understanding the roles of CDOs in organizations and what are the professional skills and experience they may need have in order to undertake their responsibilities of managing data and realizing its true values for their organizations.

A research team at University of Arkansas at Little Rock uses text mining and machine learning to analyze CDOs' resumes. [12]. According to the paper, on average each CDO has received two degrees.

  • 16.9% of them have a Ph.D. degree or doctoral degree;
  • 62.2% have at least one master degree.

In terms of degree concentration,

  • 47.8 of them have a computer science, computer engineering, or information science degree;
  • 31.8% of them have a MBA degree;
  • 16.0% of them have a business, finance, or economics degree.


External links[edit]