Complexities behind establishing the CDO role


Regular readers of my posts will know that I’m a big advocate of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) role. Also sometimes referred to as the Chief Data and Analytics Officer (CDAO), establishing this role and getting it woven into the organisational fabric doesn’t happen without challenges.

If we use an analogy from the sports world, it’s like the coach introducing a new playing style and bringing in a young new upstart to play in the key position. The old guard is more than likely going to be resistant to the change.

I have come across two interesting articles that explore the introduction of the CDO into the organisational fabric. For reference, you can read more here and here. Below, I delve into some of the learnings provided by these stories on CIO.com, and my take on these.

The CIO-CDO relationship

The relationship between the CIO and CDO can be a significant hurdle. The CIO traditionally oversees systems, databases, and infrastructure, including data warehouses and business intelligence capabilities. The CDO, a relatively new role, is responsible for data strategy, quality, and governance. This dynamic can lead to friction as decisions regarding data architecture, governance, and tools may conflict with the preferences of the IT operating model.

As mentioned in the first article: “Data is generated by or consumed by the applications that enable the business,” says Marcus Murph, leader of CIO advisory at consulting firm KPMG. “This creates a natural friction between the CIO and CDO, as choices about data architecture, data governance, tools — and their costs — can conflict with broader IT operating model preferences.”

Despite this potential conflict, the relationship between the CIO and CDO can in fact be mutually beneficial and complementary. Collaboration between data and IT teams can improve when there is a shared understanding of data security, privacy, storage, and technology management. This collaboration can then move towards leveraging data strategically to drive business results.

Funding and resources

Data and analytics leaders often face challenges related to funding and resources. The lack of resources and funding can impede their ability to deliver strategic results. This constraint is reflected in surveys where data leaders cite resource limitations as a top hurdle.

Demonstrating the value of data and insights is another obstacle. While marketing the insights and their business enablement is important, quantifying their impact in financial terms can be challenging. The additional value provided by insights, such as improved targeting and increased renewals, is not easily quantifiable. This lack of tangible monetary value can hinder advocacy for data initiatives within businesses.

Organisational structure

The position of the CDO within the company also affects the success of data and analytics initiatives. Many CDOs report to the CIO and operate within the IT function. While this arrangement can be effective, CDOs who occupy higher positions in the company hierarchy tend to have better visibility and leverage to work on business goals.

As the author in the second linked article cites: “…the CDAO serves multiple stakeholders across the organisation and cannot operate in isolation. They need to align with organisational strategic priorities, collaborate and sell the overall vision and strategy for data and analytics, and get buy-in for their initiatives.”

However, a more significant challenge is the lack of recognition and understanding of the role’s value among executives. Without a seat at the board, the title, mandate, and budget, performing the CDO/CDAO responsibilities becomes arduous.

Other considerations

Several other challenges contribute to data and analytics success, including cultural resistance to change, limited business stakeholder involvement and support, insufficient authority to execute CDO responsibilities, and poor data literacy.

Overcoming these challenges often requires a multi-pronged approach, involving stealthy implementation of data governance, data literacy initiatives, insights marketing, and data science. These approaches leverage the skills and capabilities of the team members to create opportunities and drive data-centricity within the business.

Business necessity

Successfully establishing the CDO/CDAO role is not an easy task. CDOs face complexities in managing data and analytics strategy, overseeing initiatives, and navigating company dynamics. However, by prioritising strategy, aligning with business objectives, and effectively communicating the value of data and analytics, CDOs can contribute significant value and influence the empowerment of their position. Aligning analytical insights generation and BI delivery priorities with strategic objectives enables companies to improve decision-making, monetise data products, optimise costs, enhance data literacy, and foster a data-driven culture.

Leave a Reply

hope howell has twice the fun. Learn More Here anybunny videos