​INSIGHT: Do you need a Chief Data Officer?

You’ve heard it before but there's a new kid in town: the chief data officer. Why the new role?

You’ve heard it before but there's a new kid in town: the chief data officer. Why the new role?

Because of an increasing awareness of the value of data and the painful recognition of an inability to take advantage of the opportunities that it provides - due to technology, business, or basic cultural barriers.

As the title suggests, chief data officers are no longer just for the early adopters - those enthusiasts and visionaries on the forefront of new technology trends.

With 45 percent of global companies having appointed a chief data officer (not to be confused with a chief digital officer, as we specifically asked about “data”) and another 16 percent planning to make an appointment in the next 12 months - according to Forrester's Business Technographics surveys, the role of the chief data officer really has move into the mainstream.

However, there remain many companies who are not sure of whether they need a CDO or not. Many of those in our audience during a recent webinar fell into that category.

We asked two questions of the audience to gauge their interest and their actions to improve their data maturity:

1.Are you making organisational changes specifically to improve your data capabilities?

2.Does your organisation have the Chief Data Officer role explicitly defined?

Over half of the webinar attendees who responded to the question had already made organisational changes to improve their data capabilities, and another 30 percent were planning on it.

Only 13 percent hadn’t made such changes, nor were anticipating organisational change - there is clear consensus that something must be done to address data opportunities and challenges.

However, only 17 percent of those who responded had officially appointed a chief data officer, with another 34 percent considering the role or planning an appointment.

While these numbers fall below the global average they are not surprising given the nature of the webinar topic.

Many came wondering if they needed a CDO - only 38 percent of respondents were not planning to hire a Chief Data Officer.

The webinar covered the basic state of the CDO role - Who has one? Who do they report to? What do they do? - and also presented some pretty compelling correlations between those organisations with CDOs and positive business benefits.

Not only are organizations with a CDO more likely to achieve higher revenue growth, they are also:

•More likely be able to ensure compliance and reduce risk

•More likely to demonstrate business agility

•More likely to make data available within days, compared to weeks

•More likely to commercialise their data

•More likely to do a good job at attracting, hiring, training and retaining business intelligence talent.

While we don’t explicitly say that everyone needs a CDO, the general consensus is if you’re asking the question, then you likely do.

<b>By Jennifer Belissent - Research Analyst, Forrester Research</b>

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