Is your company benefiting from a Chief Data Officer (CDO)? As the CDO becomes a more firmly established role at companies of all sizes, understanding their position within and value to the business is more important than ever.  

A recent article from the MIT Sloan School of Management takes a closer look at the CDO position, including their benefits, their place in the organization, and the range of critical tasks they must carry out to be successful. According to the article, “Companies are doing more than paying lip service to data-driven decision-making these days; many have added a chief data officer to their already crowded executive ranks.”

The reasons for this are clear. Employing a CDO at your company leads to better results via data-driven decision-making, more efficient processes and operations, and more empowered employees that deliver more value to the company. For these reasons, according to the article, establishing a CDO that provides “executive stewardship” for the company’s data transformation illustrates a clear case for the business need of this critical new C-level role.

Where companies tend to go wrong when determining the need for a CDO is by simply handing over the responsibilities to the Chief Information Officer (CIO). This is an issue because CDOs do more than handle the technical aspects of data transformation. According to the article, “The CDO functions as the general caretaker of data, responsible and accountable for all the organization’s information assets, including processes around availability, quality, security, and making data usable across the business.” When taking this broader scope into account, it becomes clear that a dedicated CDO is a requirement, but working with the CIO—and across the organization—is key to success.

What steps can today’s CDOs take?

According to the article, as today’s CDOs take on more responsibilities for data management and usage across the company, there are several ways to help drive success. This includes:

  • Breaking down silos: In order to improve business processes, data analytics initiatives require input from across the organization. This requires CDOs to ensure company-wide participation, “Information silos not only create downstream challenges for optimal decision-making, but they are also a drag on worker productivity.”
  • Promoting data democratization and data literacy: Today’s CDOs are responsible for ensuring that all employees know that data is a company asset, as well as how they can benefit from it in their jobs. This means that CDOs need to be able to balance data governance, data procedures, and employee culture to maximize success across the organization.
  • Monetizing data: Perhaps one of the highest hurdles to clear, the task of monetizing data into new revenue streams is an emerging and critical duty that virtually every CDO is charged with today. This includes sharing or selling data externally and creating new data-driven products.

If you’d like to learn more, you can find the complete MIT Sloan School of Management article here.