The Emergence and Challenges of Chief Data Officers in Modern Business

Not to be confused with the Chief Information Officer, the Chief Data Officer (or CDO) is a C-level corporate executive who plays the valuable role of governing all pertinent data for an organization.

A 2018 survey recently reported that 63.4% of executives from industry heavy-hitters indicated having a CDO at their firm. This is a 51.4% jump from 2018, which clearly indicates that the Chief Data Officer is quickly being established as a critical role within a large range of top ranking corporations.

CDO Challenges - Blue Graphic

However, despite the increasing value of the CDO, there also appears to be an overwhelming lack of accord on the attributes of the role, as well as the qualifications, responsibilities, and background necessary to qualify an executive to operate successfully as a CDO. This could very well be part of the reason why today’s CDOs are finding themselves stretched a bit thinly over the corporate landscape. It is this very ambiguity which may be leading many CDOs to unwittingly act as a proverbial catch-all for a business’ miscellaneous needs and details.

According to an article by Infoworks’ Todd Goldman, rather than focusing on the use of data as a strategic business asset, CDOs are getting weighed down by extraneous dialogues better suited toward technologists.  “They’re getting pulled away from the work that pushes the business forward. It’s like pulling aside the trainman responsible for pumping coal into the steam engine and putting him in charge of collecting passenger tickets,” says Goldman.

CDO Challenges - Big Data Globe

Nevertheless, Chief Data Officers should maintain confidence in that fact that the specific technology they employ is what modern businesses need to keep from falling behind. In fact, within a year’s time, the percentage of relevant companies who have hired CDOs may very well jump to 90%.

For further details and research on this topic, read Todd Goldman’s recent article, “Are CDOs Being Stretched too Thin”.


Fred Coon, CEO

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