In the 21st century, every company uses data; and many of those companies use data to influence decision-making.

So, why doesn’t every business have a chief data officer (CDO)?


Although it will be a few more years before we see chief data officers occupy positions at all large companies, the number of businesses with CDOs has risen with the popularization of data collection.

Between 2012 and 2018, the percentage of Fortune 1000 companies with chief data officers has grown roughly 55%.

That begs the question — is it time for your business to hire a CDO?

There are a handful of essential priorities that every CDO takes on, and your business might be able to benefit greatly from filling such a position.

Here are five surefire signs that you need a chief data officer at your company.

1. You’re a Large Business

If you’ve already grown a humble startup or small business into a large business or even a corporation, there’s really no excuse not to have a chief data officer on board at your company.
At your current size, you’re likely working with no shortage of available data — data that should be influencing business decisions.

In order to achieve this, however, your C-suite needs an expert with an analytical mind and a keen eye for innovative opportunities.

2. You’re Looking to Go Data-Centric

If you’re looking to transition from a data-informed company or data-driven company into a data-centric company, the first thing you need to do is go out and hire a chief data officer.

With data at the forefront, your company’s business decisions, application development, customer service, and other functions are going to become highly dependent on the capability to manage data efficiently and pull value from it.

There’s no better person to oversee these developments than a chief data officer!

With the ability to support talent and identify future projects, your CDO will keep your business current with data trends — whether it’s artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, big data, or the next big thing in data technology.

3. There’s a Lack of Leadership in Data

A single data breach has the potential to permanently damage your business’s reputation. Unless you’re Facebook, you may not be able to fully bounce back from a cyber attack or another incident involving customer data.

If you’ve already had issues or hiccups in the data department, you’re in need of strong leadership, fast — not only to the plug holes that you’re unable to see, but also to help develop solid data protocol and practices at your company.

Your employees need to understand the importance of protecting data and managing it wisely. With a top dog in the department’s chain of command, reporting should improve, as should the time needed to respond to and address data issues.

Not to mention, employing a chief data officer will make your life a whole lot easier. You’ll be able to get all of your information from a single source, rather than having to hunt around for answers!

4. You Want to Harness Big Data

Did you know that in 2018, it was reported that 90% of data had been generated in the two years prior?

Data creation is growing at an incredible rate. With more people on the internet, more online mediums, as well as more companies and technologies to help capture data, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to keep up.

If you want to be able to get a handle on big data, you’re going to need a CDO who sees the big picture — one who can put the right team in place and help them get the most out of data collection and data science.

5. They’re Hard to Find Right Now

Because of the rapidly increasing demand for chief data officers, there aren’t many available at the moment.

Even if you don’t anticipate really needing your CDO until a few years down the road, it might still be in your best interest to invest in a CDO now and make sure your company is prepared and in good position by the time you really need one.

If you wait too long, you might lose your next CDO to a competitor!

Gartner had previously predicted that by 2019, 90% of large organizations would have their own chief data officers. While that didn’t quite happen, we’re not too far away from it being a reality.

Especially if you’ve witnessed any of the aforementioned signs at your own company, you don’t want to get left behind. Go out and get your CDO!

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