Data bosses driving transformation: Gartner

Data bosses driving transformation: Gartner

Chief data officers now delivering tangible business value

Look out CIOs, the data guru is becoming the ‘linchpin’ of digital business transformation, according to Gartner.

The researcher's third annual chief data officer survey – completed with 287 chief data officers, chief analytics officers (6 per cent from Australia) – found that CDOs are no longer just focused on data governance, data quality or regulatory drivers. They are now delivering tangible business value, and enabling a data-driven culture, said Gartner research director, Valerie Logan.

“Aligned with this shift in focus, they survey also showed that for the first time, more than half of CDOs now report directly to a top business leader such as CEO, COO, CFO, president/owner or board/shareholders. By 2021, the office of the CDO will be seen as a mission-critical function comparable to IT, business operations, HR and finance in 75 per cent of large enterprises,” said Logan.

Unlike the chief digital officer role – which Gartner expects to disappear over the next five years – support for the chief data officer is rising in Australia and globally. Organisations implemented an ‘office of the CDO’ rose’ (either formally or informally) rose from 23 per cent in 2016 to 47 per cent this year.

Gartner said CDOs are becoming impactful change agents who are leading data-driven transformation activities. Many (71 per cent) are serving as digital advisors to their businesses; 60 per cent are assessing external opportunities and threats as input to business strategy; and 77 per cent were exploiting data to provide their companies with a competitive edge.

“The steady maturation of the office of the CDO underlines the acceptance and broader understanding of the role and recognises the impact and value CDOs worldwide are providing, said Gartner research director, Michael Moran.

“The addition of new talent for increasing responsibilities, growing budgets and increasing positive engagement across the c-suite illustrate how central the role of CDO is becoming to more and more organisations,” he said.

Budgets are also on the rise with survey respondents reporting an average CDO office budget of US$8 million with 15 per cent reporting that they had US$20 million to spend. A further indicator of maturity is the size of the CDO organisation with an average of 54 direct and indirect staff, compared to 38 in 2016, Gartner said.

Meanwhile, more than one-third of respondents said “increased revenue” is a top three measure of success. There is also a clear bias developing in favour of value creation over risk migration as a key measure of success for a CDO.

“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.

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