The new year is no doubt bringing new challenges for today’s Chief Data Officers (CDO). Expanding data privacy regulations for consumers. The need to recruit and hire the best data scientists. The time and effort needed to build a truly data-driven culture. The list goes on, and appears to only be getting longer.

Here on the APEX of Innovation, we’ve covered this ever-evolving role before, including the new requirements of today’s CDO and the roadmap for CDO success. Below we provide another perspective. This time from a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) piece headlined, Are You Asking Too Much of Your Chief Data Officer? The article notes that much confusion still exists for the role that was first introduced by Capital One back in 2002. This includes clarity on objectives with “little consensus about which are most important,” according to HBR.

Below are just some of the many jobs assigned to CDOs today:

1. The Chief Data and Analytics Officer: Data science, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives can all fall under the CDO’s responsibility. With the goal of building data analytics into the business and how it operates, it should be noted that CDOs with these key responsibilities have little time to do much else in their day-to-day jobs.

2. Data Entrepreneur: Data monetization ranks high as a key desired outcome from data analytics initiatives, and it’s the CDO that’s usually leading the charge. According to HBR, this includes “selling [data] directly, using it in data- and analytics-based products and services, or spinning out new businesses based on it.”

3. Data Developer: As CDOs come under increasing pressure to deliver results, many find themselves getting involved in application development and infrastructure projects. This is especially true for enterprise projects that have a “data-intensive” aspect to them, which are more likely to need expertise around data acquisition and analytics.

4. Data Defender: Not surprisingly, the responsibility of ensuring the protection of data often lies with the CDO team. This includes protecting a company’s data assets against cyberthreats, security breaches, and fraud. For such a mission-critical function, the HBR article suggests that data protection is actually a full-time role itself and should not be left solely to the CDO.

5. Data Architect: In addition to ensuring data safety, CDOs are often tasked with handling data management and data systems architecture initiatives. This includes making sure data is “aggregated, cleansed, consistently formatted, and readily available throughout the organization,” according to the HBR article. 

6. Data Governor: Taking a holistic view of the company’s data, understanding which parts of the company primarily use it, and recruiting internal stakeholders to take on data management responsibilities for the company can also fall to the CDO. For example, enlisting the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) to help manage marketing and customer-related data helps extend the care of data beyond the CDO team.

7. Data Ethicist: According to HBR, this role is the least common today, but one that is rising in importance. As more and more employees use data analytics in their jobs, it’s critical that companies ensure the right practices are in place to ensure the ethical use of it. This includes “how it’s collected, safeguarded, and shared and who controls it,” according to HBR.

Whether your company currently has a CDO or plans to hire one in the future, the increasingly strategic role requires business leaders to constantly engage with them. To ensure business success, organizations should provide CDOs with the tools and resources needed to effectively complete the ever-growing list of jobs assigned to them.