Gartner: CDOs are plotting a course to become CEO

CDOs are pioneering a new organisational function alongside IT, HR and finance

Fifteen per cent of chief data officers (CDOs) will become CEO or move into other C-level positions by 2020, according to analyst firm Gartner.

In its second annual CDO survey, Gartner found that early adopters of the CDO role are pioneering a new organisational function to sit alongside IT, business operations, HR and finance.

"The office of the CDO is being established as an operational department with the appropriate staffing, budget and responsibilities," said Debra Logan, vice president and Gartner fellow.

Gartner found that 30% of the surveyed CDOs said they report directly to the CEO, demonstrating the importance placed on the role.

And the value attached to the role has led Gartner to predict that more than a sixth of successful CDOs will move into a CEO, COO, CMO or other C-level role.

Hiring a CDO

Jamie Popkin, a Gartner vice-president, said: "24% of the respondents said that the board of directors wanted the role.

"The board's involvement, together with the responses pointing to a specific crisis or problem, and the 41% of respondents who said that the CEO or CFO wanted the role, makes it safe to assume that this was a major strategic decision that affected business operating models," he added. 

Popkin emphasised the importance of CDOs working closely with CIOs - although perhaps surprisingly only 62% of CDOs said they treat the CIO as an ally or partner.

More than half (54%) of the organisations that Gartner surveyed said that they had partially or fully implemented an 'office of a CDO' (OCDO), with a further 20 per cent looking at implementing an OCDO within the next year. However, a fifth of organisations said they were unlikely to implement an OCDO.

The main business objectives of the OCDO were to increase customer intimacy (62%), competitive advantage (60%), and efficiency (54%), while the main organisation-wide responsibilities are oversight of analytics initiatives (69%) and data governance (68%), followed by defining the analytics strategy (64%) and ensuring information reliability and value (64%).

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