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CDOs: The Newest Members of the C-Suite

on August 31, 2016

Most businesses today use data across departments, from marketing to customer service. Few, however, have a formal strategy for managing and using data as a success-driving asset. Now is the time to think about hiring a CDO (chief data officer) to manage the big-picture purpose of using data at work to remain competitive, break down departmental barriers, and streamline workflows. 

Capture the State of the New C-Suite

The C-suite is expanding. In modern business, having a CEO, a CFO, a CMO, and a CIO won’t cut it. Technology, innovation, and the nature of business are changing too rapidly. To integrate solutions and maintain a competitive edge, executives must juggle an increasing number of strategic objectives. The CDO focuses on the role of data inside and outside of the organization, establishes data best practices, and helps executives communicate data-driven goals between departments. The right candidate for the job understands areas of crossover such as information security, marketing, and finance, and uses data to enhance these strategic business areas. 

Companies are investing in CDO expertise at a rapid rate. Consider these key statistics:

Companies including IBM, Yahoo, AIG, and the FAA all have CDOs. Yahoo has had one since 2004. Whether you call the position “CDO” or a similar title, the function will play an important role as technology advances exponentially over the coming years.

Gain These Benefits When You Hire a CDO

As you explore the role of a chief data officer, you may wonder if any of your current executives can fill the need. Hiring someone with experience in data aggregation, analytics, and leadership will provide the following benefits above and beyond your current leadership structure:

  • Improved business agility. CDOs live in the data world day in and day out. With the right data at his or her fingertips, a candidate will provide insights into the economy, business efficiencies, and customer expectations, enabling your business to make smart business decisions quickly. 
  • Maximum competitive edge. In the coming years, having a CDO early in the game will give your organization insights that competitors may not access. From investing in IoT advancements to understanding the global marketplace, this executive has the power to help you surpass your closest competitors.
  • The ability to bridge the gap between data and action. A CDO is not an analyst, a data manager, or an information specialist, though the executive may possess any of these skills. Rather, a CDO is a thought leader who can manage data flows through an organization and turn them into actionable advice that drives change.
  • Customized, data-driven strategy. Today, many organizations focus on broad analytics, third-party insights, or departmental information. The CDO has the ability to customize and streamline a business’s data strategy to reduce inefficiency and create meaning out of the sometimes chaotic messages offered in data sets.

Consider hiring someone who can focus on the data and extract meaningful information you can use every day. To reap the benefits found in this new C-suite trend, look for a CDO with experience as well as soft skills, such as creative problem solving and the ability to communicate complex concepts to the average layperson. 

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