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CDOs ‘more crucial than ever’ amid 4th Industrial Revolution disruption

77% of CDOs are developing data and analytics solutions to increase competitiveness.

By CBR Staff Writer

With IoT and autonomous technologies making waves in enterprises – and GDPR just on the horizon –the role of the CDO is more crucial than ever. For the first time, more than half of CDOs now report directly to the company president, a new report from Gartner has found.

Emerging technology forges opportunities in revenue growth for the CDO in the know. As such, more than a third of CDOs reported “increase revenue” to be one of the top three measures of success. On a mean basis, 45% of the CDO’s time is allocated to value creation and/or revenue generation, 28% to cost savings and efficiency, and 27% to risk mitigation.

Budgets are also on the increase, with an average CDO allotted an $8m spend in 2017, compared with $6.5m in 2016. Almost one in six respondents (15%) reported budgets of over $20m, more than twice the 2016 number (7%).


Gender diversity among CDOs has a long way to go, with just one in five women filling a Chief Data Officer position, Gartner found.


By 2021, the office of the CDO will be seen as a mission-critical function comparable to IT, business operations, HR and finance in 5% of large organisations, Gartner reported. A rise in support for the CDO role is palpable around the world, with more than twice as many firms (47%) having implemented an Office of the CDO compared with 2016 (23%).

“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.

In terms of gender equality, however, tech firms still have a long way to go. Of the respondents to Gartner’s 2017 CDO survey who provided their gender, 19% were female and, rising slightly to 25% in organisations with worldwide revenue of more than $1bn. This contrasts with 13 per cent of CIOs who are women, per the 2018 Gartner CIO Agenda Survey.

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Age diversity has been achieved more quickly than in gender, with nearly one in three (29%) of CDOs under age 41 compared with fewer than one in five being women.

All the same, Gartner predicts the CDO will be the most gender diverse of all C-level tech positions by 2021.

With new technology also comes the inevitable new hurdles, with two in five CDOs citing “culture challenges to accept change” as one of their top three difficulties. Poor data literacy was the second greatest woe, with 35% of respondents bemoaning the knowledge gap in business.

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On the upside, CDOs are leading the way in data-driven transformation in business, with researchers identifying three areas of increased responsibility in 2017; Firstly, serving as a digital advisor – 71% of respondents act as a thought leader on emerging digital models and help to create the digital business vision for the organisation; Secondly, providing an external pulse and liaison – 60% assess external opportunities and threats as input to business strategy and 75% are building and maintaining external relationships across the organisation’s ecosystem; Thirdly, exploiting data for competitive edge – 77% are developing new data and analytics solutions to increase competitiveness.

“CDOs and any data and analytics leader must take responsibility to put data governance and analytics principles on the digital agenda. They have the right and obligation to do it,” said Mario Faria, managing vice president at Gartner.

A further indicator of maturity is the size of the office of the CDO organisation. Last year’s study reported total full-time employees at an average of 38 (not distinguishing between direct and indirect reporting), while this year reports an average of 54 direct and indirect employees, underlining the increasingly federated nature of the CDO office.

Gartner interviewed 287 CDOs, chief analytics officers and other high-level data and analytics leaders from across the world between July and September 2017.

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