Chief data officers growing in number and influence

The role of data in the enterprise has changed dramatically over the last several years. Today, data is often viewed as a commodity a company can potentially use to gain a competitive edge.

But for most companies, getting that edge requires having the right talent in place to break up data silos and to create a standardized method to ensure everyone is using the same data within the same structure across the entire organization.

As a result, the chief data officer (CDO) role is growing. According to Pyramid Analytics[1], 2017 will be the biggest year yet for data analytics, and that means demand for CDOs will grow.

“The role of the CDO has been evolving for the past several years to a more mainstream role within business,” said Omri Kohl, founder and CEO at Pyramid Analytics. “We will see this trend accelerate in 2017.”

CDO jobs have more than doubled since 2014, with searches by job seekers looking for CDO roles also showing very strong growth, according to career site company Indeed[2]. At the same time, CIO jobs have decreased by more than 30% in that same timeframe. 

The rise of CDOs is not occurring only in the private sector. Jane Wiseman, Innovations in American Government Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School, examined the CDO role in government in a new report[3] released January 25. Wiseman found state, county and city executives named a new CDO nearly every month in the second half of 2016. The primary reason? Data-driven decision making is proving effective for better resource allocation.

“As stories are shared about these cities’ success in reducing blight, food borne illness, fire fatalities and traffic congestion, and in improving building safety inspections and emergency call response times, there is increasing evidence that hiring a Chief Data Officer is a sound investment,” said Wiseman.

At the same time, the CDO role is also growing in influence. Today, more than 30% of CDOs say they report directly to their organization’s CEO, not to the CIO, according to Kohl.

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