The rise of the chief data officer

The chief data officer or chief data scientist is making its way into the enterprise as Gartner predicts 25 per cent of large global organisations will have someone dedicated to this role by next year.

Debra Logan, research vice president and Gartner Fellow, said banking, government and insurance industry sectors are where most companies are appointing a CDO. “However, we are now seeing other industries following. For example, we saw the first significant appointments in the advertising industry in 2013.”

CDO of Booktopia Angela Keil-Zippermayr told CIO Australia that as more businesses go digital, there’s a growing need to have a dedicated professional to mine, analyse, manage and bring value out of data. She said at the moment this role might be lumbered onto the CIO or other teams, but that might not be sustainable as data is growing exponentially.

“It’s not something you can just do on the side, so I wouldn’t recommend placing this as a side task onto another role,” she said.

“In my role I work eight hours a day, but I feel like I need more because I don’t have enough time to cover all of the areas in my job.

“More and more businesses are going online and going digital, so analysing the data is one very crucial step to meeting what the market needs and wants.”

Gartner’s Logan also pointed out that it’s important for IT and CDOs not to be too possessive of the organisation’s data.

“The CDOs do not ‘own’ the data. The CDO owns a few things, but coordinates the use of data in other places. This is exactly like a CFO, who owns a few financial processes, like consolidation and treasury, but other than that coordinates the use of capital throughout the organisation.”

Keil-Zippermayr agreed.“Sometimes IT has a lot of control over what data should be filtered through onto the website, and the chief data officer kind of balances it out. The chief data officer is not just focusing on the data itself, or from the IT side but also we think about how we can integrate our ideas with all the other departments around us in the company.”

Keil-Zippermayr added a CDO may be the most complimentary role to the CIO in helping bring value to the organisation through the use of data, while making someone accountable for one of the most important assets of an organisation.

“I work with the head programmer and IT director. We are always keeping each other up-to-date with current projects and progress,” Keil-Zippermayr said.

“A latest project was facing the problems with different product types than what we’re used to – we used to just focus on books. We are now growing additional product types for our site, which is a challenge because we have our database set up for book attributes rather than other product types like DVDs, games and e-books. So overcoming that challenge required a closer relationship with IT.”

Follow Rebecca Merrett on Twitter: @Rebecca_Merrett

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