Another Seat in the C-Suite: Introducing the Chief Data Officer

The C-Suite, the veritable Mount Olympus at the end of the corporate ladder, has always held the leaders, originators and visionaries that steer the company towards its future. These figures are the elite, the vital and necessary building blocks of the company. But with the new deluge of data-based insights and decision making, a new place has been set at the C-Suite table: The Chief Data Officer.

The increasing importance of data analytics shouldn’t come as a surprise. The worlds of finance, manufacturing, healthcare, marketing, technology and insurance have long known the importance of data. The insights derived from data analytics have saved companies, transformed industries, and disrupted much of what we thought we once knew. And with the sheer enormity of usable information in the world today, data has become a hard asset. Many organizations have realized this, and so the need for a data analyst in the c-suite is clear. Those companies who have chosen to remain ignorant to data science have paid dearly. So it’s no surprise that the data officer be given a role in the C-Suite, a place of prestige, power, and influence.

Many corporations have already begun creating chief data officer positions to fill out their corporate framework and the position is growing in popularity. Tech-research company Gartner predicts that 90 percent of large companies will have a CDO in place by the end of 2019. But with all this heat on the CDO, what exactly is a chief data officer? And what are their responsibilities?

The chief data officer is responsible for the management and utilization of data as an agent of efficiency and strategy. Executives often bring on chief data officers to increase operational efficiency, increase revenue and the bottom line. But the real impact lies in data insight. The chief data officer uses big data analytics to drive innovation, transformation and competition within business practices and infrastructure. It is the CDO that finds and visualizes insights into how the company is doing, where it is going, and what to do next.

A good chief data officer requires flexibility, experience and an unyielding drive to move the company forward. The CDO’s goals should be clear and defined:

  • Be the champion of data: establish the importance and vitality of data analytics for decision making, implement data management strategies, and institutionalize data quality.
  • Assessing data risk: measure and predict risk at the executive table, through analytics
  • Transform corporate strategy: use analytics to influence corporate decision-making strategies
  • Improve the bottom line: lower the cost of data quality and compliance, streamline productivity through accurate analysis of employee data
  • Improve the top line: increase revenue, gain customers, retain customers and market goodwill through effective data governance

Companies who have initiated the chief data officer role in their infrastructure have already seen the effects. In an analytics report produced by the IBM Institute for Business Value, researchers found that two-thirds of companies that had appointed a CDO were outperforming their competitors. Along with this, organizations with a CDO were twice as likely to have a comprehensive big data and analytics strategy as those who didn’t.

The era of big data is here. Organizations that choose to embrace data analytics, and the chief data officer, for the valuable contribution they make to business, will truly reap the benefits of this ever-expanding, disruptive technology. And those who do not, will never quite make it to Olympus.


To truly build a data-driven business, companies must fully utilize and analyze the data they possess. Eccella Consulting assists companies in achieving their full data potential, allowing them to harness and maximize data, and ultimately become more successful. Click here for more information.