CDOs are Delivering Business Impact and Enabling Digital Transformation

CDOs are Delivering Business Impact and Enabling Digital Transformation

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As the role of chief data officer (CDO) continues to gain traction within organizations, a recent survey by Gartner found that these data and analytics leaders are proving to be a linchpin of digital business transformation.

The third annual Gartner Chief Data Officer survey was conducted July through September 2017 with 287 CDOs, chief analytics officers and other high-level data and analytics leaders from across the world. Respondents were required to have the title of CDO, chief analytics officer or be a senior leader with responsibility for leading data and/or analytics in their organization.

"While the early crop of CDOs was focused on data governance, data quality and regulatory drivers, today's CDOs are now also delivering tangible business value, and enabling a data-driven culture," said Valerie Logan, research director at Gartner.

The survey found that support for the CDO role and business function is rising globally. A majority of survey respondents reported holding the formal title of CDO, revealing a steady increase over 2016. Those organizations implementing an Office of the CDO also rose since last year, with 47 percent reporting an Office of the CDO implemented in 2017, compared with 23 percent fully implemented in 2016.

Respondents report an average CDO office budget of $8 million, representing a 23 percent increase from the average of $6.5 million reported in 2016. Fifteen percent of respondents report budgets more than $20 million, contrasting with 7 percent last year. A further indicator of maturity is the size of the office of the CDO organization. Last year's study reported total full time employees at an average of 38, while this year reports an average of 54 direct and indirect employees, representing the federated nature of the office of the CDO design.

With more than one-third of respondents saying "increase revenue" is a top three measure of success, the survey findings show a clear bias developing in favor of value creation over risk mitigation as the key measure of success. CDOs are not just focused on data as the title may imply. Their responsibilities span data management, analytics, data science, ethics and digital transformation. A larger than expected percentage of respondents (36 percent) also report responsibility for profit and loss (P&L) ownership.

In the 2017 survey, 86 percent of respondents ranked "defining data and analytics strategy for the organization" as their top responsibility, up from 64 percent in 2016. This reflects a need for creating or modernizing data and analytics strategies within an increasing dependence on data and insights within a digital business context.

Gartner predicts that by 2021, the CDO role will be the most gender diverse of all technology-affiliated C-level positions and the survey results reflect that position. 19 percent of the respondents were female and this proportion is even higher within large organizations climbing to 25 percent in organizations with worldwide revenue of more than $1 billion. The survey respondents reported that there is no shortage of internal roadblocks challenging CDOs.

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