Why do we need a Chief Data Officer

Why do we need a Chief Data Officer?

Why do we need a Chief Data Officer?

This is the 1st of 3 blogs looking at the role of the CDO.

Chief Data Officer (CDO) roles are becoming increasingly popular, perhaps driven by a combination of the need for organisations to become more data-driven and regulatory pressures, such as GDPR.  These roles, by definition, are very senior in their organisations reporting to the very top tier of management, but have they already become a revolving door?  CDO roles are frequently a source of conflict, as there seems to be frequent territory wars with IT and others.   So, we thought we would look at the key questions of “Why do we have a CDO?” and “What is it they are they asked to solve?

Increasingly organisations acknowledge that the ability to exploit data is a key source of advantage now and into the future

The drivers for creating the role are a convergence of stronger privacy laws, amongst other compliance requirements, married with a poor delivery record from those currently trying to exploit data and a constant low-level noise from data problems across the organisation.  Currently there is no owner for data so there is a need to act, establish accountability and to drive business value from data.  Organisations are increasingly beginning to acknowledge the ability to exploit data as a key source of differentiation now and into the future.

Often Information Governance is chosen as the weapon of choice to improve the management of data

Information Governance is frequently chosen as the weapon of choice to improve the management of data – as a result the new CDO implements Information Governance, which represents a culture shift in the organisation.  Changing cultures always takes time and is difficult achieve.

So why do we have a revolving door?  First of all, the CDO is not just a data expert; they are also change agents.  Problematically many are not hired for this and therefore lack the skills, subsequently floundering and leaving frustrated, or being let go because they are perceived not to have delivered.  Change and especially cultural change is difficult and does not happen quickly.  Secondly, (as we will explore further in the 2nd part of this blog) clear boundaries have not been set determining where CDO’s authority starts and finishes – this creates many points of contention, predominantly with the IT department.  This friction causes frustration and they quit or are engineered out.

In our next blog in this series we explore the role of the CDO.  Then in the final blog, we ask where the battle lines are drawn and offer our thoughts on how organisations can address the issues.