May 24, 2021

Why every organisation needs a Chief Data Officer

 Weelin Lim
Weelin Lim Chief Product Officer

Business challenge:

Data and Analytics Strategy
Data-Driven Organisation

Today, businesses of all sizes are dealing with more data than at any point in history. 

For those that can get on top of it, this represents a golden opportunity to extract insights and understanding about customers, competitors and internal operations. But for others, it can be overwhelming, and without the necessary skills and capabilities the data will be left unmanaged, and the insight untapped. 

Many large enterprises are now employing the strategic help of a Chief Data Officer (CDO) to shape and focus the organisation’s approach to data and analytics with leadership at the top. However, for smaller and medium sized businesses it may not be possible to create another C-suite role, but that does not mean that CDO responsibilities should be forgotten altogether. 

In the following article, we have answered some key questions about the CDO position, and why we think every organisation needs one today (if not in name, then in scope and responsibility). 

What is a CDO?  

A Chief Data Officer (CDO) is a leading light for data in the organisation – everything from governance, accessibility, security to how data is used as a strategic asset to drive value – the CDO takes an active and overarching view of the company’s data and seeks to capitalize on the value that it yields. 

Traditionally a CDO has primarily been concerned over cybersecurity and privacy of their company’s data, but more and more of their job is evolving, and the current aim is to turn data into a strategic asset for the business.  

In the latter case, a CDO will push the business forward with data initiatives, bringing additional value to the company through intelligent use of the data at its disposal. 

What is the difference between a Chief Data Officer (CDO) and a Chief Information Officer (CIO)?  

While the main areas of interest overlap, the distinction lies in their aims. A CDO’s aim is to add value and increase performance through the strategic use of data. A CIO on the other hand is often tasked with managing cost and ensuring security. Their aims lie with governance, cost effectiveness, efficiency, and financial optimisation.

Why you need a CDO

The reality is that most businesses are already dealing with data in one form or another, and as such there will already be someone within the organisation who is dealing with data issues, or data driven projects, alongside their other responsibilities.  

The necessity to give a person formal responsibility over data is due in part to how data feeds into a wide range of areas within a business. With a single person capable of seeing the entire data landscape, intelligent changes can be made to the way data is held, communicated, and utilised across the board. Giving your teams access to the precise data they need, when they need it, empowers them to confidently make the crucial strategic and tactical decisions that drive business value and the bottom line. 

One simple action they can take from this position, is to identify data bottlenecks and begin opening data up across the business. This change will mean that everyone is able to access data more freely and as a result, be equipped to deliver projects more effectively. 

Driving leadership in data 

Sponsoring a CDO in an organisation’s highest position also reflects positively on the business, creating public perception of a forward-thinking team who actively utilises the benefits of data.  

According to an article in Hyperight, “giving CDOs their mandate and authorisation sends a message that a company takes data seriously”, fostering a strong image that an organisation has a digital pathway to success. In order for an organisation to derive the most value from data, a clear understanding of who is in charge of data is absolutely necessary.  

It’s important to remember that, depending on the size of the company, the responsibilities of a CDO may be manageable alongside other duties, and it would be a mistake to view this as an ‘all or nothing’ position. Whether your CDOs sole focus is data and analytics, or they manage this area alongside other responsibilities, it’s essential to formalise the position. 

A leadership role that oversees data generation, cybersecurity and data-driven activities can then begin to shape business-wide data culture and open up exciting pathways for new data initiatives. 

This article is part of our Data-Driven SMB series. For more information, advice and resources on how to accelerate your organisation’s data and analytics maturity, click here or contact us today.

Business challenge:

Data and Analytics Strategy
Data-Driven Organisation
 Weelin Lim
Written by Weelin Lim Chief Product Officer

Weelin is the creator of the TrueCue Platform, and Chief Product Officer, having worked in the data and analytics industry for the last 20 years. In that time, he has delivered numerous large and small-scale BI and data and analytics platforms across a variety of industries, including healthcare, finance, media and energy.

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