Airbnb\u2019s fifth employee was a data scientist. Today, it has its own data catalog, where 45% of its 3,100 employees regularly engage. Airbnb was built from the ground up to take advantage of data, just like Warby Parker, Facebook, Google and Amazon.\nBut traditional corporations were not built this way. On this front, they\u2019re lagging behind the companies that have, in the last few years, completely disrupted industries. There is no \u201csilver bullet\u201d fix. Instead, these companies need a structure built around and for the people. It starts with the Chief Data Officer.\nWhat exactly is the Chief Data Officer here for?\nCorporations have responded to the data imperative by creating new job opportunities\u2014most notably, by inventing the \u201cData Scientist\u201d and the \u201cChief Data Officer\u201d roles. Experts and leaders across many industries have endorsed their reason for being.\u00a0 In the Harvard Business Review, Thomas Davenport and DJ Patil called the Data Scientist \u201cThe Sexiest Job of the 21st Century\u201d (note: in full disclosure, DJ Patil serves on our Advisory Board at data.world). In 2017, Gartner cited the average Chief Data Officer budget as $8 million (a 23% increase from 2016), and reported that 90% of large organizations will have hired a Chief Data Officer by 2019.\n\n\u201cIt\u2019s not difficult to see how, by 2021, the office of the CDO will be a mission-critical function comparable to IT, business operations, HR and finance in 75% of large enterprises.\u201d\u2014Valerie Logan, Research Director, Gartner\n\nBefore starting data.world, I founded and led Bazaarvoice and Coremetrics. And let me tell you: I\u2019ve seen this pattern before. New roles get invented at the beginning of a nascent category and new careers are made. It\u2019s a very exciting time, and these new positions are an admission by corporations that the status quo approach to managing the explosion of data, infrastructure, and tools isn\u2019t working. Despite the rising popularity of data-driven technologies, studies show that less than 10% of data is used effectively by organizations. In 2017, 85% of big data projects were cited as doomed to fail. Opportunity abounds for the pioneering, but not without risk. As is often the case with new roles and developing ways to measure their impact, Gartner predicts that 50% of Chief Data Officers won\u2019t succeed.\nWhy? Outside of select teams, a lack of support for the required cultural change hinders their usefulness, their jobs aren\u2019t very well defined yet, and it isn\u2019t clear exactly how they\u2019ll achieve their mission.\nChief Data Officers can be heroes\nMaking the Chief Data Officer a hero of the organization will make companies more efficient, effective, and competitive by speeding up and smoothing the transition to data-driven culture. So, how do we mitigate risk and capture the true value of this new position? Companies must foster an environment where the Chief Data Officer is empowered to democratize data across the organization. We talk a lot about the data, but the data is only as good as the people behind it and the context needed to understand it.\n\n\u201cI have noticed that data professionals fall into the pitfall of only sharing the numerical results of their analysis work with decision-makers.\u00a0 We know that context is key, and it is critical for data professionals to share the overall context in which the numbers exist, as numbers alone don\u2019t tell the whole story. We need to be cognizant that every statistic fits into the context of a real-life narrative and we need to be aware of its impact.\u201d\u2014Ella Hilal, Director of Data, Shopify\n\nAs data brings down traditional functional barriers, organizational power shifts. This can make company leaders uneasy. It can challenge the reign of HiPPOs (the highest paid person in the room). But it must happen in order to create the potent mix of people, practices, and tools that multiplies data\u2019s value. At data.world, we\u2019ve defined and developed a CDO-led approach to this transformation called Collective Data Empowerment. It\u2019s an approach that lifts up all employees, not just the data elite.\nAccording to Deloitte, business ecosystems\u201a marked by the interdependency of ideas, processes, and technologies\u201a offer unprecedented access to capabilities, resources, and talent on a global scale.\u00a0 By bringing together various players and groups with distinct strengths, a successful ecosystem creates new value, sets the stage for innovation, develops and scales solutions, improves customer loyalty, and creates sustainable revenue streams.\nForrester reports that insights-driven businesses are growing at an average of more than 30% annually and on track to earn $1.8 trillion by 2021. According to MIT researchers, companies that engage in data-driven decisionmaking experience a 5-6% increase in productivity. EY reports that data-driven cultures result in 15% growth in revenue and operating margin.\nAdditionally, team members who feel empowered are more likely to be loyal. Today\u2019s workforce is expecting immediate answers to their questions. And they don\u2019t like friction that gets in the way of contributing with knowledge or skills. This is one reason why modern companies like Warby Parker and Airbnb have been built up from the ground up around data. Their founders understood the Internet intuitively\u2014they didn\u2019t have to learn it. They were used to having instant access to information (Google, Wikipedia, etc.) as well as people (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.).\u00a0 Your new-age workforce expects to be connected\u2014to each other, and to the data and the answers they need to do their best work.\nIt is time for openness and connectedness to reign\u2014from open standards and integrated tools to linked data and deep community participation.\u00a0 To win, your company needs to put its people at the center of data and analysis.\u00a0 Chief Data Officers were made for this moment. But they can\u2019t do it alone. It\u2019s 2019, and I can\u2019t think of a better New Year\u2019s resolution than for their companies to support them now to create that data-driven culture that we all seek.