Explaining the Role and Importance of the Chief Data Officer

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Businesses are now in a position where they can no longer ignore big data analytics. Big data has become such a vital area of importance that any company that thinks it doesn’t apply to them risks being left behind. Luckily, most organizations haven’t adopted this mindset. The question most businesses now have to answer isn’t whether they should use big data but rather how to use it most effectively. The solution is a lot more difficult to answer since strategies across different industries will vary by large degrees. Many companies have decided to create a new executive position to handle big data duties: the Chief Data Officer (CDO). Being a new position, CDOs certainly have their work cut out for them, particularly because their duties and roles have yet to be clearly defined. Some organizations even believe they don’t need one at all. With this in mind, it’s best to examine why a Chief Data Officer is so important and what role they can play within an organization.

While some may think the CDO works mostly with IT, that may not be the most effective use of the position. If anything, the CDO acts independent of any department in the company. The Chief Data Officer is all about managing the company’s data, ensuring it is integrated fully and utilized properly. The CDO also makes sure that data is protected. Big data may be most associated with IT, but data is being used for nearly every job in a business. From sales and marketing to human resources to accounting, big data offers a lot of benefits that go beyond the initial high end tech impression. CDOs act as a type of go-between — a bridge that connects these departments to the data that they need. This also requires frequent collaboration with the IT department, which will likely collect that data for the rest of the company.

Since each department has their own goals and motives for how to use data, it’s up to the CDO to ensure everything is kept relatively uniform. If every section of a company chose their own platform and applications for big data, it would quickly turn into a big, confusing mess. CDOs keep everything organized, in part by choosing the best business intelligence platform for use with the whole company. Unifying the ways people interact with their data is crucial, but it’s also a task that’s quite challenging. CDOs have to be able to account for every department’s needs and goals. At the same time, CDOs should have control over who has access to which data. This helps protect data while also making data use more efficient since different departments don’t have to go through IT every time they need something.

It’s the CDO who is the main person over organizational data, and since data is looked at as a core asset now, that speaks to the CDO’s importance. But there’s much more that goes into a CDO’s job than the individual tasks he or she takes on. CDOs will find more success by adopting certain philosophies as well. The Chief Data Officer needs to be one of the main voices in the company pushing for innovation. Many departments look at new ideas with the attitude of trying to avoid costs as much as possible. While CDOs can’t ignore costs, they need to be a driving force for new technologies, whether they be a new hybrid cloud service to check out or adopting a modular data center. All new ideas can tie into data, and many are important for keeping a company competitive for many years to come.

That all means a Chief Data Officer should be willing to take risks while being open to new ideas. Data represents an exciting future for businesses, and CDOs need to be able to communicate that to everyone else within the organization. A CDO isn’t just an important position for now; it’s a role that will be of vital importance well into the future, especially as the Internet of Things becomes more commonplace. Businesses should be willing to hire a Chief Data Officer soon if they don’t already have one. Even if data use is still fairly minimal, it will only grow in the years ahead. Acting now will help companies prepare for the time when data is used for practically every business function.

Linda_GimmesonContributed by: Linda Gimmeson, a tech writer with a focus in big data, machine learning, & IoT. Linda discusses big data, emerging technologies, and how companies can get real value out of their data.


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