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White Paper

Rise of the
Chief Data Officer
An Executive Whose Time has Come
The Rise of the Chief Data Officer


Kirk Borne
Data Scientist, Astrophysicist,
Professor of Astrophysics and Computational Science,
Big Data Science Consultant, & Public Speaker

The signs are all around us. The flowers are with the right skills, and the sexiest thing
blooming. The fruit is starting to appear. The happening in the 21st century 4.
harvest will be abundant.
Many now believe that Big Data has matured,
No, we are not talking about farm crops. moving beyond the peak of its initial hype and
But we are talking about a booming natural is moving ahead into its promised plateau
resource. We are talking about data! of productivity. Data has come of age in the
corporate boardroom as well. The enormous
Data is now recognized by its more familiar potential for new wealth, new products,
name Big Data. Big Data are everywhere, new customers, new insights, and new
as a result of sensors everywhere. Sensors entrepreneurial business lines has caused a
include human sensors (in social networks cataclysmic shift in the power of information
and other online venues), retail transaction in the corporate executive suite. The existing
databases, web documents and web logs, CIOs role seems to have solidified in the
financial records, market numbers, health past decade to that of Chief Information
records, law enforcement tracking, surveillance Technology Officer, with an emphasis primarily
systems, cyber systems, machines, weather, on technology and infrastructure. The new
traffic, huge scientific experiments, massive CxO in the boardroom is the data person
simulations (of vehicle collisions1, the brain2, (the data lover). This may be the Chief Data
the climate, and the Universe 3), and so on. Scientist (focused on the analytics objectives,
Big Data has grown up it is now recognized opportunities, and obsessions that arise in this
as a fundamental business asset, a natural era of Big Data). But, we also see the CDO
resource, a driver of innovation, a source of (Chief Data Officer) coming into the inner circle
revenue, a creative force for new products and of executive power.
new wealth, a cultural sea change, a disruptive
force, a job opportunity gold mine for those


The Rise of the Chief Data Officer

Foreword continued

The CDO is focused on the data acquisition, steer it into new directions of this scale.
governance, quality, management, integration, Admiral Grace Hopper offered this advice
policies (including privacy, preservation, (and warning): The most dangerous phrase
deduplication, curation), value creation, in the language is, Weve always done it this
recruiting skilled data professionals, way. It takes executive-level leadership to
establishing a data-driven corporate culture, shake up corporate inertia, to push for new
team-building around data-centric business data-oriented approaches, and to overcome
objectives, and acquisition and oversight the paralysis of analysis, in order to drive
of corporate data technologies (not I.T. in the organization into the unchartered waters
the historical sense). The responsibilities where big data analytics are leading the new
are enormous, the requisite skills are CxO- digital business. The CDO is that leader.
worthy, the challenges are many, and the
opportunities to create and define the role are Big Data was the sleeping giant of the digital
very attractive. age, hidden like a seed beneath the soil but
it is now in full bloom. It takes a leader with
Perhaps the largest role (and biggest data savvy to nurture it and to make the most
challenge) of the CDO will be to manage of it. This white paper takes a broad look at
the titanic shift in corporate culture that the many relevant issues described above. It
moves from traditional business instinct in examines these and many other facets of this
decision-making to evidence-based data- new corporate data-driven phenomenon: The
driven decision-making. This will require Rise of the Chief Data Officer.
silo-smashing on a corporate-wide scale,
forging new alliances across departments,
and engaging stakeholders inside and outside

the business. Only an executive-level position

such as the CDO would have the authority
and charge to rock the corporate boat and
The Rise of the Chief Data Officer

About Tealium
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Select clients include A+E Networks, Fox Networks, Lenovo, Petco, Priceline, Vodafone,
The Wall Street Journal, and many more. For more information,
please visit
The Rise of the Chief Data Officer


The Rise of the Chief Data Officer | 1

Chief Data Officer by the Numbers | 2

Chief Data Officers: Which Industries? | 3

Chief Data Officer in the C-Suite | 4

Chief Data Officer Responsibilities | 5

Big Data, Big Decisions | 6

Technology and the Chief Data Officer role | 7

Chief Data Officers and the Data-Driven Enterprise | 8


Executive Summary

The importance of effective data management

will only increase as devices and sensors collect
even more data

As more organizations realize the The importance of effective data management

importance of managing their data in light will only increase as devices and sensors
of new legislation, business practices and collect even more data, the information
perceptions, the number of Chief Data economy demands greater data integration
Officers (or CDOs) and analysis at
is rising. Data a faster rate.
management and
government regulations and Businesses
data-led decision privacy issues dominate news increasingly use
making is too critical headlines around the world analytics to drive
not to have a C-level strategy and
executive with an innovation, whilst
overall responsibility government
for its management, security and appropriate regulations and privacy issues dominate news
use. We are on the cusp of a data boom and headlines around the world.
we are seeing the number of CDOs growing

In this white paper, we look at the factors affecting the emergence of the CDO role:

Where CDOs can be found Chief Data Officers are becoming a familiar
sight in boardrooms and CDO appointments
Why they need to be within a
are spreading to new industries. We are
C-level role
entering a new era for big data, and Chief
What responsibilites and challenges Data Officers are not only defining the industry
CDOs face standards but also the CDO role itself.
Emerging technological issues.

The Rise of the Chief Data Officer

Chief Data Officers by the Numbers

Companies are increasingly appointing Chief Data Officers and the numbers are growing
exponentially each year. There are countless senior information managers, but currently few
data experts at C-level with responsibility across the enterprise. In 2014 and 2015, that number
will undoubtedly grow.

Key Statistics

There are more than 100 Chief Data Officers in 1. Gartner, CIO Advisory: The
large global companies in 2014.(1) Chief Data Officer Trend Gains
Momentum, 13 January 2014.
The number of large global company CDOs has
2. Gartner.
already doubled since 2012.(2)
3. Data Blueprint/Dataversity, The
60% of companies, large and small, say they Precarious State of the CDO:
need to hire or are hiring a CDO or senior data Insights Into A Burgeoning
leader.(3) Role, 2013.
4. Data Blueprint.
70+% of CDO roles were created within the
5. Accenture, Analytics in Action:
last year. Five years ago, the role wasnt widely
Breakthroughs and Barriers on
known.(4) the Journey to ROI, 2013.
66% of large enterprises have a senior data 6. Gartner.
leader and 71% will do so soon.(5) 7. Gartner.
8. GoldenSource, Chief Data
17% of large enterprises will have a CDO by the
Officers Role Growing in
end of this year and 25% will have one by next
Importance, 18 June 2012.
year. (6)
Top CDOs are found in more than a dozen
countries, with 60% in the US and 20% in the
Top CDOs are found in
More than 25% of them work in New York or
Washington DC due to regulatory drivers.
More than 25% are female.
60% 20%
of top CDOs of top CDOs
are in the US are in the Uk
In financial services, 80% of companies in the
Americas, 60% in Europe, and 50% in Asia
Pacific are moving in that direction.(8)

As more organizations consider the value of making

business decisions based on data, we can expect the
CDO role to spread even further afield. So where are
they found?


Chief Data Officers: Which Industries?

CDOs help accelerate the speed of analysis

and decision making
Executives with the CDO title are largely Governments are challenged by their
found in finance, government, and technology. fundamental responsibilities as a central
Many companies have senior managers with data source and provider. CDOs create
similar roles and it is likely that many of those frameworks for treating data as an asset,
roles will evolve into CDO jobs. managing information, coordinating multiple
agencies and disseminating information.
The presence of CDOs is driven by heavy
regulation, risk and compliance management, Technology companies are driven by their
the sale of data-driven products and high IT ability to collect vast amounts of real-time
expenditures as a percentage of operating data and their desire to monetize that data
expenditures. or utilize it in product design. CDOs help
accelerate the speed of analysis and decision
In finance, the financial crisis led firms making to develop new products and
to establish CDO roles for executives services.
responsible for data quality. Increased
regulatory attention to money laundering
and tax evasion has also prompted Big Data
investments in financial fraud detection.

The Rise of the Chief Data Officer

Chief Data Officers in the C-Suite

Chief Data Officers are moving to the top of

the organization hierarchy
Every company is now a data company. departments will even have different names
Chief Data Officers are moving to the top of for key performance indicators. The result is
the organization hierarchy as data increasingly a fragmented data culture, lacking good data
becomes a business asset. Companies are sharing, leadership, data led decision making,
more and more dependent on data products and any real sense of cohesive practice.
and data analysis to drive revenue, yet
investments in data are minuscule relative The Chief Data Officer needs a clearly defined
to what companies have invested in IT. The role and high-level authority to manage
management of data is increasingly critical information, conduct analysis and link them
to business decision making and the key to strategy across the enterprise. CDOs
data leader needs be part of the senior typically report to the CEO or CTO. Naming a
management board. C-level data officer also signals to the entire
organization that the business is taking data
New data management frameworks such seriously and now recognizes information as
as MapReduce and Hadoop have enabled an asset.
organizations to analyze huge amounts of
data in much simpler and more cost effective The CDO role also needs to be at boardroom
ways. But the task of doing so often falls to level because it bridges functions. Purely
already overstretched IT departments, and IT-focused CDO roles tend to lack sufficient
outside the existing level of skills and training business knowledge to truly work across
of those departments. multiple functions. Seating the CDO in a
particular business function also has its risks
Data warehousing and analysis can be because governance and best practices cant
very siloed, which hinders enterprise level necessarily be generalised to fit the rest of the
reporting and decision making. Different organization.


Chief Data Officer Responsibilities

As the CDO role emerges, the actual

responsibilities involved vary considerably
between industries. The key things they have
in common are being responsible for data
across the enterprise and driving how the
companys data supports the companys
overall strategy.

a willingness to figure
out their new role as
they go along

Core CDO Duties

Data Governance and Quality

Analytics and Business Intelligence
Data Management and Systems
Data Security and Privacy
Best Practices

Some CDO roles place more weight on using

data to drive sales and marketing or R&D
initiati ves than on the IT function. Even in
government, some CDOs emphasize open
data initiatives and transparency, whilst others As a bridge between business and IT, Chief
bear more responsibility for coordination Data Ofiicers responsibilities cross functions
between government departments. and involve multiple stakeholders. CDOs
have to use their enterprise information
Across the board, CDOs have deep industry management expertise to drive the
knowledge and a willingness to figure out their companys major business objectives.
new role as they go along. When it comes Making this happen demands keen political
to data, many organizations are establishing skills as well. CDOs have to communicate
brand new structures and implementing new with those in the boardroom as well as those
policies. in the server room.

The Rise of the Chief Data Officer

Big Data, Big Decisions

CDOs face a number of difficulties, not least Managing Company Politics

that it is a new role without established best As the CDO role emerges, it may initially
practices. CDOs are challenged to create overlap with other existing roles in the
value for the enterprise, addressing privacy organization. If not clearly defined, creating
concerns, manage company politics and a CDO within the organization can cause
recruit other skilled data professionals. friction, expose existing management
weaknesses, add an additional layer of
Many CDOs are the first in management, lead to budget issues and
cause staffing re-allocation from other
their company to hold the departments.
role and define it as they go
Recruiting Skilled Data Professionals
Creating Value Data professionals with skills in data
Many CDOs are the first in their company to management, manipulation and analysis are
hold the role and define it as they go. Some in high demand. CDOs will need to recruit
may even find that rather than creating bigger from outside the organization, train new
data initiatives, their role is to pare down specialists and also increase general level of
data collection and analysis to what is most data literacy throughout the organization.
strategically relevant.
Addressing Privacy Concerns
The increasing use of consumer data creates
Examples of data that organizations use new revenue opportunities and also puts
to create value: the enterprises reputation at risk. Recent
corporate and government data privacy
Personal Customer Data and
scandals makes customers even more
wary of providing data. CDOs will have to
Internal Sales and Customer play a role in communicating the terms of
Service Data
exchanging data with the company, how it
Website Data will be stored, how it will be used and how
Multi-Channel Data customers can exempt themselves from
programmes. CDOs will also take the lead
Loyalty Programme Data in lobbying governments to formulate better
Travel Data data privacy legislation.


Technology and the Chief Data Officer

The CDOs job is to also implement new technologies that augment the companys strategy. At
boardroom level, decision makers need better data analysis and visualization and new insights
into how to monetise data. Despite continued advances in IT, organizations success with data
will depend on their ability to ask the right questions.

Major Technology Issues for The speed of

CDOs: computing is
Computing and Processing currently limited
The speed of computing is currently limited by the ability
by the ability to miniaturize transistors.
to miniaturize
Quantum computers cost around $10M, but
cloud-based quantum computing will soon transistors
be available.
Cost and Scalability
Companies need to experiment with new
approaches, then inexpensively scale them.
Big Data as a cloud-based service is cost-
effective, scaleable and runs quickly.
Privacy and Security
Security inside and outside the enterprise
will be important and companies will need
to develop predictive solutions.
The continued digitization of information and
processes will create new vulnerabilities.
Sensitive personal information can
already be aggregated from using data
artifacts without customers entering actual
Governments will be watchful and may
begin to make companies liable for security
More companies will introduce data ethics
boards and increase transparency.
Data Storage and Analysis
The three Vs, volume, velocity and variety, will
continue to drive technological needs.

The challenge is to identify only the relevant data and find patterns that can drive the business

The Rise of the Chief Data Officer

Chief Data Officer and the Data-Driven

CDOs are moving into the boardroom new policies and procedures. Given the
because data as an asset is at the center infancy of the role, CDO responsibilities
of company strategies. Finding new sources differ considerablly across industries, but
of revenue and creating new products are in general, they are responsible for data
increasingly dependent on data. As a result, across the enterprise and integrating into the
executives responsible for data management companys strategy. Key CDO challenges
need enterprise- include creating value for
wide authority and the enterprise, addressing
responsibility. privacy concerns,
managing company
Five years ago, few politics and recruiting
companies had a CDO other skilled data
and now there are professionals.
more than 100 in large
global companies. The number of CDOs is
The majority of already growing and will
organizations surveyed, continue to do so as big
both large and small, data and technologies
now say that they continue to evolve. As
need to hire one. At companies become better
the moment, CDOs are at managing data and
mostly found in finance, using data at their cores,
government and they will also move from
technology. CDOs using data to tell
are more recently The majority of us who and what
found in advertising, and how many,
pharmaceuticals, organizations surveyed, towards asking and
energy, automotive answering why.
manufacturing, health both large and small, Throughout the
care and utilities. The enterprise, people
CDO role will grow now say that they need will become better
quickest in industries at working with data,
where regulation and to hire a Chief Data combining multiple
risk management sources of data and
are important, IT Officer choosing which data
expenditures are high, to work with. By
or customer data drives sales or innovation. integrating effective data management with
corporate strategy, CDOs are forging the way
CDOs need to be willing to be the first in to our big data future.
their organizations and flexible enough to
work with multiple stakeholders and invent



CDOS by numbers
1. Gartner, CIO Advisory: The Chief Data Officer Trend Gains Momentum, 13 January 2014.
2. Gartner.
3. Data Blueprint/Dataversity, The Precarious State of the CDO: Insights Into A Burgeoning Role, 2013.
4. Data Blueprint.
5. Accenture, Analytics in Action: Breakthroughs and Barriers on the Journey to ROI, 2013.
6. Gartner.
7. Gartner.
8. GoldenSource, Chief Data Officers Role Growing in Importance, 18 June 2012.

The authors would like to thank all the members of the LinkedIn group - Big Data / Analytics /
Strategy / FP&A / S&OP / Strategic Planning / Business Analytics / Innovation

The Rise of the Chief Data Officer


George Hill
Managing Editor of Big Data Innovation, a magazine dedicated to the spread of new ideas
and technologies within the data community. He has been writing and researching around the
subject for the past 4 years as well as collaborating with and interviewing some of the major
players within the space.

Chris Towers
Big Data Divisional Head at the Innovation Enterprise. Since Joining in 2012 Chris has immersed
himself with the Data Community on a global scale, bringing key decision makers, pioneers,
leading experts of all seniorities under the same roof. With an avid interest in all things Big Data,
Chris is passionate about Big Data Innovation and the future the industry and practices hold
helping pave the path forward for practitioners working in the field.

Kirk Borne
Kirk Borne is a Data Scientist and Professor of Astrophysics and Computational Science in
the George Mason University School of Physics, Astronomy, and Computational Sciences. He
has been at Mason since 2003, where he does research, teaches ,and advises students in the
graduate and undergraduate Data Science, Informatics, and Computational Science programs.
Previously, he spent nearly 20 years in positions supporting NASA projects, including an
assignment as NASAs Data Archive Project Scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope, and as
Project Manager in NASAs Space Science Data Operations Office. He has extensive experience
in big data and data science, including expertise in scientific data mining and data systems. He
has published over 200 articles and given over 200 invited talks at conferences and universities
worldwide. Follow him on Twitter at @KirkDBorne.

Featured Contributors
The authors would like to thank all the members of the LinkedIn group - Big Data / Analytics /
Strategy / FP&A / S&OP / Strategic Planning / Business Analytics / Innovation for the continuing
sources of new information and discussions around data.

The Rise of the Chief Data Officer


George Hill Chris Towers

Managing Editor & Online Director Big Data Divisional Head

+1 (415) 992 7586 +1 (415) 992 5339

Deanna Notice Hannah Sturgess

VP, Marketing Director, Demand Generation Partnerships

+1 (415) 992 5561 +1 (415) 992 7502
The Rise of the Chief Data Officer

Ideas for a new generation of leaders

About Innovation Enterprise

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The Big Data revolution has brought with it the realization that data scientists need to share
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