5 Common Challenges facing Chief Data Officers - Wyatt Partners

5 Common Challenges facing Chief Data Officers

Here are 5 of the most common challenges facing Chief Data Officers today.


  1. Attributing Success

Let’s set this against the context of Gartner’s Mario Faria who said that by the end of 2019, 50 percent of chief data officers would be seen to fail, highlighting the extent of the challenges facing Chief Data Officers

This is hardly inspiring stuff for the Data industry.  But in light of this famous proclamation most will understandably be asking: ‘so what are the ways in which you can measure the success of a Chief Data Officer?’  ‘In what ways can the CDO accurately attribute success to their and their team’s work?’

Your team might be doing sterling work, but revenues in the company are still falling?  What if you know your team’s work has led to multi-million-pound cost savings, yet it is hard to directly attribute this?

These are very real challenges facing the Chief Data Officer in their search for relevance and acceptance at the top table.


  1. Transformational Change

Today’s Chief Data Officer need to be, impactful change agents capable of leading and evangelising data-driven change within an organisation.  CDO’s can face a variety of challenges in doing this though, from executives with long-entrenched ways of doing things through to Legacy technology challenges.

The role is still very much in its infancy so many CDOs’ may not sit where they want to in the organisation. They may also find that their role overlaps somewhat with other colleagues in the business including CIO & Head of Data Management amongst others.


  1. Hiring a Great Leadership team

Data has gone from a back-office function to front and centre of business strategy in a handful of years.  Excellent Individual contributor talent is in high supply on the market and often easier to find.  However, at a leadership level, there is a real talent shortage which is a major issue for CDOs’ trying to build effective leadership teams around them.

Executives with Technical backgrounds in Data Science, Data Engineering, Machine Learning & Predictive Analytics as well as strong commercial leadership, communication & strategic skills are in short supply, which is no surprise given how quickly Data has moved from the back to the front office.


  1. Finding Great Technology partners to work with

One thing is sure, with the pace of change the chief data officer, particularly within larger corporates, will need to work with external technology and software providers.  With so many companies pitching into the Data Management, Data Science space, and plenty of snake oil salesmen to be found, working out who to work with and who to avoid is a big challenge all of it’s own.


  1. Balancing quick wins with long term strategy

The CDO should have a long term data strategy and vision for the company over a number of years.  However this needs to be balanced in the short term with the ability to achieve some quick “proof of concept” wins that will enable less resistance to future change & transformation, and allow the CDO to get some of the most ardent senior executives on side!


Learn more about Chief Data Officer Recruitment here:

The DO’s & DON’TS of hiring a Chief Data Officer