The new CDO challenge: Making data analytics-ready for business growth

  • Ashley Lozito
  • October 16, 2019

CDO: this is a woman looking at data on a computer monitor

You’ve been hired as a Chief Data Officer (CDO) for a large enterprise. Congratulations! And good luck – you have a big challenge ahead of you.

The CDO is one of the newest, most rapidly growing, and perhaps one of the toughest jobs in the C-suite. Part of that challenge is because the job is still very much a moving target. The roles, responsibilities, mandates, and importance of this position vary wildly and change rapidly from enterprise to enterprise.

By the end of 2019, 90 percent of large organizations will have hired a CDO. But Gartner already predicts that only 50 percent of those CDOs will be considered a success.

High stakes, evolving expectations

Why is the anticipated rate of failure so high? There are a few theories as to why turnover is high for CDOs. It could simply be that expectations of this role continue to evolve. This evolution narrows the field of candidates who can measure success and deliver on a specific business’s needs. It is also possible that this role serves too many masters within the organization. Or the CDO spends too much time managing data and not enough time providing data insights and information that will actually contribute to revenue.

Past, present, and future CDO responsibilities

CDOs started showing up in organizations in 2008. The role emerged in response to the increased compliance regulations that came in the wake of the recession. Since that time, the focus has shifted from just compliance to the need to gain competitive advantage using data. So the roles and needs of the CDO have shifted as well.

In July 2019, Gartner announced the next evolution of the CDO and shared the past evolutions using the following definitions:

  • CDO 1.0 – focused on data management within an organization
  • CDO 2.0 – focused on data management and analytics within an organization
  • CDO 3.0 – leading and heavily participating in the digital transformation of their organization
  • The Next Evolution, CDO 4.0 – focused on products, and managing profit and loss instead of solely driving data and analytics for projects and programs.

Useful data is critical for CDOs

The pressure that CDOs face seat points to a larger issue of data management inside an organization. As data volumes continue to grow, turning data into insights continues to be a struggle for many businesses. In order to meet the new responsibilities of the next evolution, the CDO 4.0 needs analytics-ready data — a challenge shared by 90 percent of enterprises that cannot make data available in a format usable for analytics

Organizations expect CDOs to support new business models and use data to identify places in their business that are ripe for innovation. And this aspect of the job is only growing. By 2021, the CDO will be a mission-critical function comparable to IT, business operations, human resources, and finance in 75 percent of large enterprises.

Data is the product 

Companies now use data like a product, to fuel business growth.  For example, Amazon provides recommendations based on user data.  In order for enterprises to create products based on insights, they need those insights quickly. But getting that data into a useful state to generate those insights is not as easy to achieve with legacy technologies not designed to work at speed and scale.

Setting up the data journey inside an enterprise involves multiple stakeholders, and various data formats. It also requires centralized data. But getting data into one place, where it is joined together and embellished with metrics, requires data transformation.

Data transformation is the key

In a recent Q&A with TDWI, Matillion CEO Matthew Scullion shared his view on the challenges enterprises face in order to make their data useful.

“I think one of the single biggest challenges facing business today in terms of data analytics is the disconnect between creating and collecting data and usefully analyzing it. The expectation is that if you have the data, you can analyze it. The reality is that you need to transform source data — which by its definition is siloed and raw — into useful, joined together, embellished, analytics-ready data.

Data transformation is a key part of the process and a data warehouse isn’t just the database technology, it’s the way the data is modeled and transformed from how it was, to how it needs to be to gain insight.”

As CDOs lead the way for data productization, rapid data transformation is a crucial component of their success. Investing in and implementing data transformation software provides businesses with faster time to value. With more rapid processes and results, they can begin to solve departmental and business-wide challenges. The business use case for data insights has evolved past purely operational needs. Now data serves to prove ROI and spur innovation across the organization.

Gain rapid time to insight

Every CDO knows that rapid time to insight is one of the biggest competitive edges an enterprise can have today. Our latest eBook explains how your team can accelerate insights to make data-driven decisions in your organization and reach business goals. You can find it here .