Chief data officers will be in demand by 2023

They will play a pivotal role in pivotal role in accelerating digital business and building a data-driven organisation.

By 2023, Gartner predicts that 50 per cent of chief digital officers without a chief data officer (CDO) peer will need to become the de facto CDO to succeed.

The 2021 Gartner Board of Directors survey found that 69 per cent of boards of directors have accelerated their digital business initiatives in response to COVID-19 disruption and are moving faster now than before the pandemic began. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said that analytics will emerge as the top game-changing technology from the COVID-19 crisis.

“Chief digital officers and CDOs have pivotal roles in accelerating digital business and building a data-driven organization,” said Mike Rollings, distinguished research vice president at Gartner. “Some organisations may not have the luxury of having both roles, but the absence of executive focus on either of these critical endeavours can undermine the other.”

Not only has demand in data and analytics (D&A) increased since the onslaught of the COVID-19 crisis but the urgency to drive digital transformation has also changed. “The success of these endeavours is intertwined – a digital business cannot exist without data and analytics,” said Rollings.

Every digital strategy is bound to how digital business moments are orchestrated and how D&A assets are used to maximize economic value. Together, these heightened expectations for value put additional pressure on chief digital officers, who are accountable for instigating and shepherding digital business endeavours. They also accentuate the CDO’s accountability to maximize the economic value of D&A assets.

However, not all businesses have chief digital officers or CDOs, but both positions are critical for an organization’s success. Organizations without one or both roles must understand the critical significance of D&A to their success in digital business endeavors and seek to infuse digital aspirations with D&A. Chief digital officers are instigators of change making their role more transient but taking on CDO’s accountabilities can solidify the longevity of the role in the organization.

Conversely, CDOs in organizations without a chief digital officer should assume digital initiative responsibilities. “It’s time to dispense with conventional beliefs about D&A that it only responds to business needs instead of acting as a catalyst,” said Rollings. “Or that it is merely a support service that delivers capabilities to a targeted audience, rather than a widely practiced enterprise competency.”

The CDO must infuse their enterprise business strategy with D&A thinking.

Leading digital transformation has become the top skill and capability expectation for CDOs, expanding further the role of D&A in digital business transformation.

“The role of the CDO will either succeed by delivering business transformation or fail by overly focusing on tactical and responsive concerns,” said Rollings noted.




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