Why be a Chief Data Officer?

by Kate Tickner on 27th June 2017

Recently I searched Wikipedia on “Chief Data Officer” in order to see how it is defined and what other sources of information its pages might lead me to and I was not disappointed*. (Yes Jimmy Wailes, I contributed to this year’s fundraiser!).

Why was I looking up this term? Here at Entity Group we are seeing more and more organisations looking for Chief Data Officers (CDO) and more and more CDOs (or their equivalent) looking for assistance with their mission. In many cases it is also assistance in defining and setting success metrics for that mission. That is what our team of advisory consultants are involved in at all stages of the information management lifecycle with our clients. It is becoming clear to us that for most medium or larger sized organisations, in order to treat data as the valuable business asset that it is, there has to be someone at executive level to represent it, be responsible for it and give it a voice.

Events are being dedicated to CDOs – last year we attended the CDO Exchange for Financial Services event in London and had a large number of conversations with attendees that confirmed our view that the recognition of data as an asset at Board Level is on the rise. This is not just a conversation about technology – although that can and should be an enabler. One Chief Data Officer I met last year at an IT Expo acknowledged that he was in the “wrong place” because he was not interested so much in the technology selected. He said he had more software products in his organisation than anyone knew what to do with. We discussed that he was much more interested in how to put the right processes and people in place (to use the technology) to get the best out of his data.

In conjunction with that, we see that lack of data governance and data quality is perceived as a genuine risk. This is not just in terms of an inability to define and use data for revenue generation/growth in areas such as Sales and Marketing but also in regulatory compliance. For example, take customer data – the traditional aspiration to maintain a “single view of customer” is still there but starting to be overshadowed by the looming General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR deadline in May 2018.

I wanted to understand: