Gartner recently released the results from its seventh annual Chief Data Officer survey, which underscores that data and analytics activities must be focused on prioritized and measurable business outcomes in order for individuals to be successful in the CDO role. 

Among the key takeaways are: 

Successful CDOs Engage at the Executive Level

Gartner found that low-performing CDOs typically have more projects with the CFO, focused on costs and operational efficiency. High performers, by contrast, tend to have projects with the CEO that are aimed at value outcomes. The top three objectives among these high performing CDOs are: 

  • Improved decision-making (63%)
  • Meeting revenue generation (49%)
  • Improving the customer experience (49%)

To achieve these goals and gain additional executive buy-in, the firm recommends that CDOs look for projects focused on revenue generation, insight monetization and productization, and improved customer satisfaction.

Technology Investment Priorities 

CDOs are investing simultaneously in both foundational data capabilities like data quality and data governance and more advanced capabilities such as ML, AI, and data literacy. Eighty percent of survey respondents pointed to data management as their chief investment priority, while 59 percent put ML, AI, and advanced analytics in the number five spot. 

Widening Success Gap 

Talent shortages, lack of resources and funding, and cultural impediments are among the top barriers to success for data and analytics initiatives. The CDOs who focused on change management and data literacy within their programs were much more successful than their peers in overcoming these roadblocks. Encouragingly, this appears to be a primary area of focus for the coming year—61 percent of respondents put the development of a data-driven culture at the top of their investment priorities. For more on what companies should do to become more data-driven, check out this previous APEX of Innovation post

Evolution of the CDO Role 

By 2023, Gartner believes the majority of successful CDOs will have a business background, rather than IT, to reflect boards’ continued focus on deriving digital value. As this happens, CDOs will have to rethink their job functions and ensure they—and their teams—have the necessary full spectrum capabilities ranging from business intelligence through to advanced predictive and prescriptive approaches.

For more on these and other findings from the firm’s CDO survey, head over to CDOTrends.