The emergence of The Chief Data Officer

Digital development and the use of targeted data are two topics which will play an imperative role in defining a company’s short to mid-term prospects. They demand respect. 2016 saw some companies formalising this as an opportunity, explaining the issues involved to their CEO and creating a new leadership position- the Chief Data Officer (CDO). Let’s take a closer look at this role. What is and does a CDO do? Let’s start by discussing what it is not: The CDO is not responsible for the information management nor the IT infrastructure of a company. The Chief Information Officer (CIO) plays out such a role in working to support the business through IT and is responsible for the “transformation” of IT architecture within the framework of digital development. The CDO, on the other hand, has the organisational and political task to initiate and drive such a “transformation”. They are largely there to encourage the targeted use of data by means of their horizontal and cross-departmental standpoint. To this end, they are responsible for the data, which is still scattered throughout the departments of marketing, sales and production. Combining this data and the corresponding content is imperative for the development of data-driven, digitally sovereign companies. As part of the leadership war, the CDO brings their data to the eyes of the leadership team. They act as an intermediary between CIO and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and is responsible for driving the digitisation through targeted adjustments and coordinated marketing within the company. Their world is principally about capturing, managing, protecting and monetising the “right” data. What are the tasks of the CDO? The CDO develops and manages the data management strategy, coordinates the enterprise information management (EIM) and establishes its standards and organisation. They manage data governance and compliance, through subjects ranging across data security, protection and ethics. They are also responsible for ensuring data quality, management of business intelligence (BI), date warehouse improvement (DW) and the corresponding operating figures. Another key element revolves around establishing and coordinating Big Data Management, insofar as being responsible for and managing Data Scientists, the Data Stewards (Dateneigner auf Deutsch) and the data service providers. Where does the CDO come from? According to Forbes Magazine, there were only a handful CDOs at the time of the financial crisis in 2008/2009, but it has been argued that it was directly due to the crisis that the potential of a CDO grew, namely thanks to the increased amounts of regulatory compliance and reporting requirements in the banking and financial sectors. Getting the data right has been driven home by every risk manager in recent years, hence the reason for so many CDOs coming from a risk management upbringing. Where are there today CDOs? In spite of the seemingly indispensable nature of the position, the CDO is still a rare specimen. Although their number is doubling each year, there are still only a few thousand worldwide. In the DACH region they are a real rarity. According to a survey conducted by the industry association Bitkom only 2 percent of companies with more than 500 employees have a CDO in their leadership structure. Where does the CDO take place? Real change and transformation goes beyond considering digitalisation as a mere technical necessity- we have heard argued that data and digital thinking must be given top priority by going as far as creating a new culture with new leadership. For this, a driver and “initiator” must be established: the Chief Data Officer (CDO). Welcome to the board…

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