The Rise of the “D” in the C-Suite


Several recent articles have piqued my interest in an emerging addition to the C-Suite – the CDO, or Chief Data Officer. My response is YAA – Yet Another Acronym to add to the stretched recesses of our memory banks. 

The C-Suite has become a crowded home for 3-letter acronyms. As the digital world continues its rapid and roundabout route to the next platform, the founding members of the CxO club are extending membership to a next-generation team of functional specialists.

Enter the Chief Data Officer. It’s no surprise that data is now considered our most valuable and marketable asset – both on a personal and corporate level. And with “big” defining the massive scale of the world’s data repositories, it’s time to “wrestle the elephant” and unlock the potential of this digital revenue opportunity.

The CIO has the smooth operation of IT and internal infrastructure in his/her sights, but now the lens is being focused on the effective management and delivery of data, as well as a strategic business approach to the mining and use of enterprise data.

So what are the “data-day” responsibilities of a CDO? I found this to be a tricky role to pin down, especially as it relates to other technology-focused executives. As a fledgling on the executive team, it can be open to the interpretation and experience of the first-time CDO.

 According to Jane Griffin, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, “a CDO must function as ‘the voice’ of data and generally champion its position as a strategic business asset. An effective CDO crafts and implements data strategies, standards, procedures and accountability policies at the enterprise level.”

Gartner estimates that there are more than 100 CDOs currently working in the financial services and government sector, and that by 2015, 25% of all large global organizations will have added the CDO role to their executive line-up.

If data are the crown jewels of the organization, they are also its greatest liability. So for the newly-crowned CDOs and for those on next year’s executive wish list, protection of their namesake – whether by locking it in the tower or executing a robust data protection strategy – is fundamental to their success.

As the role of the CDO continues to evolve and solidify, data is going to feel a lot more love from the C-Suite.

Data that is loved tends to survive.” – Kurt Bollacker, Data Scientist, Freebase/Infochimps

About the Author: Lesley MacDonald