The Role of a Chief Data Officer – It is about Value

Chief Data Officer (CDO)

I preface many of my posts and articles by saying ‘I am not a data professional’ but when you only talk to people in this market all day every day, you really do begin to appreciate and understand how it all works.

One of my favourite data roles, but one I also feel is a little misunderstood is the role of a Chief Data Officer (CDO). Putting aside the fact I find the title cool, it is a position that has grown significantly over the years, which makes sense given the growth and approach to the use of data.

The confusion that I see is the understanding of the actual role of a CDO and how it is defined. Talking to those in the role, it does appear that many organisations hire a CDO but the position inevitably fails as  executives, and those who are not technical, do not understand its role or function.

To me it appears that it all comes down to value. Understanding data and the value it can have for companies to allow them to analyze and predict business performance, as well as customer behaviours, can be extensive. For a CDO the need to articulate how data can provide value through the better use of data and consumption, seems key.

Being able to demonstrate your value is nothing new, but how can CDO’s do this, particularly if the role or function is not clearly understood.

Asking this question to CDO’s it seems that value can be highlighted in many ways, and can include having the CDO be responsible for the Analytics & AI functions and have initiates that allow the CDO to deliver key projects in areas that can deliver real value; focus on products in data that will result in measurable results for customers or employees; clearly measuring and understanding the value of projects that are undertaken within the function; and ensuring that relationships are build with teams, executives and the company overall to educate them on the value of data.

If you think about the role of a CDO, it is a job that is here to stay. Data is not going anywhere and will only evolve more in its ability to help organisations be more competitive both in the local market and globally. The need to provide value and ensure the value is visible will always be relevant.

Tracee Rowe


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