​There’s four types of Chief Data Officer… but which suits your business?

“There's no one correct way to design a CDO office - its structure and strength depends on how it is used by the evolving organisation."

The rapid adoption of the chief data officer (CDO) role - from 400 in 2014 to 1,000 in 2015 - raises important questions about the structure and positioning of the office of the CDO in organisations.

Just months after Xero appointed its first CDO, industry analysts now believe there are four organisational design principles that CDOs should apply when designing their office.

“The organisational design of the office of the CDO must clearly take account of the role that data is expected to play in the organisation,” says Mario Faria, Research vice president, Gartner.

“Most CDOs, however, are new to the role and often have little experience with managing large teams or designing and changing organisational structures.”

To help CDOs and other business leaders meet the needs of their organisation and structure the office of the CDO appropriately, Gartner identified four value propositions for the office of the CDO.

“There's no one correct way to design a CDO office - its structure and strength depends on how it is used by the evolving organisation,” Faria adds.

“In Gartner's model, the organisational design depends on four possible ways to organise and exploit the benefits of data within the business.”

CDO organisation as an Engine Room:

The office of the CDO delivers operational data services that are focused on the needs of the internal users. It succeeds by monitoring any data market developments and building expertise in data asset usage, information management and analytics.

Everyone's CDO organisation:

The office of the CDO focuses on the needs of the internal users. But there is a strong push for data assets to be used aggressively by business leaders and individual contributors to break through traditional perimeters of business, and to drive transformation and new digital business models across the organisation.

CDO organisation as a Business Service Provider:

The office of the CDO delivers operational data services that are used by both internal and external users. The activities are expanded and integrated into a shared-service organisation that runs like a business.

CDO organisation is the business:

Information is one of the explicit external offerings of the organisation or is inseparable from the product line. The office of the CDO delivers internal and external data services that drive business transformation and differentiation.

“The CDO organisational design is about people,” Faria adds.

“It is easy enough to think about what kind of CDO an organisation needs in order to meet its business goals, but it can be harder to put in place the right people to deliver on that structure.

“It's vital CDOs think critically about what skills and behaviours will be required by the office of the CDO in the short, medium and long term.”

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