The Chief Data Officer (CDO) has arrived – who is it, exactly?
Digital development and the targeted use of data are the critical factors in the success of companies these days. They must to be prioritized. Some advanced companies have already recognized this, have made it an issue for senior management and have created a new position called the Chief Data Officer (CDO). But what does the role involve? Let’s take a closer look.
What is a CDO? What does it do?
Let’s start with what a CDO doesn’t do: The CDO isn’t responsible for information management and the IT infrastructure of a company. Supporting business with IT is still a task for the Chief Information Officer (CIO). The CDO is responsible for the transformation of the IT architecture within a company’s digital development.
However, the CDO has the organizational and political task of introducing and driving the content for the transformation. In motivating and initiating the targeted use of data, the CDO has a horizontal view spanning across all departments.
This involves bundling the responsibility for the data that is still often scattered across the marking, sales and production departments. Bringing together this data and its content is an urgent necessity for developing into a data-driven, digitally sovereign company.
As part of the senior management team, the CDO brings data to the focus of the other managers. The CDO acts as a medium between the CIO and the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and is responsible for driving digitalization through targeted adjustments and coordinated marketing within the company. The CDO’s domain is to capture, manage, protect and monetarize the “right” data.
Where are the tasks of the CDO?
The CDO develops and is responsible for the strategy of the data management, coordinates the Enterprise Information Management (EIM) and establishes its standards and organization. The CDO manages the areas of data governance and compliance with topics such as data security, data protection and data ethics, and is also responsible for ensuring the data quality as well as managing the Business Intelligence (BI), Data Warehouse (DW) and operating numbers.
In addition, the CDO establishes and coordinates the Big Data management, and is responsible for and guides the data scientists, the data stewards and the data service providers.
Where does the CDO come from?
According to Forbes Magazine, the first few CDOs emerged following the financial crisis of 2008/09. Their introduction was clearly a defensive measure and a reaction to the increasing requirements on monitoring, regulation and data protection within the banking and financial sectors.
Where are the CDOs these days?
Although the role is an essential one, the CDO is still a rare specimen. The numbers are doubling annually but there are still only a few thousand worldwide. In Germany a CDO is incredibly hard to come by – according to a survey by Bitkom, Germany’s digital association, only 2 percent of companies with more than 500 employees have a CDO within their senior management team.
Where are CDOs leading to?
Digital development and targeted use of data are definitely the critical factors for companies today. To talk and think of “transformation” here – with intentional inverted commas – is no longer enough. However, most companies are still doing just this. They are considering digitalization as merely a technical necessity and are limiting themselves to improving existing business processes with inventory data and therefore “transforming” digitally.
Real transformation is different. Data Thinking and digital thinking must urgently become the responsibility of senior management. A modern board needs to open up to new approaches and opportunities – and, what’s more, to a new culture with new leadership. This begins with fundamental thinking and spans all the way to implementation into the organization. Achieving this requires the establishment of a driver and “transformer”: the Chief Data Officer (CDO). Welcome to the board.