Chief Data Officer jobs – Here to stay in the C-Suite?
The Chief Data Officer job title has been around for well over a decade now. The thinking behind the role being that with Data becoming ever more important & of greater volumes within organisations that there should be someone at a senior level whose job it is to manage this asset.
The common consensus is there are 2 types of Chief Data Officer. Companies may need a Type 1 CDO initially; and individual who is expert in setting up Data Pipelines, Data Governance & ensuring Data Quality. Essentially someone to create the most optimal infrastructure. A type 2 CDO is someone expert at leveraging data to drive commercial value in the organisation.
The 2 types of CDO require individuals with very different skill sets. Yet both are currently known as Chief Data Officer. When trying to answer the question of whether Chief Data Officers are here to stay we have to separate the function from the job title.
Both job roles just described will be around in businesses for a very long time, but will they be known as ‘Chief Data Officer’ ?
We believe that a Type 1 CDO won’t be known as a ‘Chief Data Officer’ for very long. The function is often very closely aligned with IT, and ownership will often lie in other business lines. This function should be more accurately described as a Head of Data or Head of Data Architecture. It is a role that can report into a CTO or CIO and doesn’t need the title. In many cases at present the title is used as a bargaining chip in the recruitment seduction process.
A type 2 CDO though is a different beast, and it is in this function that the job title is likely to continue for some time, possibly even permanently in certain organisations where Data can provide huge competitive advantage. It makes sense to have someone responsible for leveraging the asset commercially in the C-Suite when this is the case.
At present though it is important to note that less than 5% of Chief Data Officers globally actually sit in the C-Suite, giving further fuel to the fire that the Job Title is being hyped by the Data Industry itself and then used as a USP to try to convince individuals to move jobs to get a ‘C’ in their title.
Many of those referred to as Chief Data Officers at present just do not possess the strategic and/or corporate communication experience to sit in the C-Suite. This will change though as a new generation of more innate data literate Executives come through, which should ensure the existence of the Type 2 CDO in the C-Suite for many years to come.
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