As the role of chief
data officer (CDO) continues to gain traction within organizations, a recent
survey by Gartner, Inc. found that these data and analytics leaders are proving
to be a linchpin of digital business transformation.
The third annual Gartner Chief Data Officer survey was
conducted from July through September 2017 with 287 CDOs, chief analytics
officers and other high-level data and analytics leaders from across the world.
Respondents were required to have the title of CDO, chief analytics officer or
be a senior leader with responsibility for leading data and/or analytics in
"While the early
crop of CDOs was focused on data governance, data quality and regulatory
drivers, today's CDOs are now also delivering tangible business value, and
enabling a data-driven culture," said Valerie Logan, research director at Gartner.
"Aligned with this shift in focus, the survey also showed that for the
first time, more than half of CDOs now report directly to a top business leader
such as the CEO, COO, CFO, president/owner or board/shareholders. By 2021, the
office of the CDO will be seen as a mission-critical function comparable to IT,
business operations, HR and finance in 75 percent of large enterprises."
The survey found that support for the CDO role and business
function is rising globally. A majority of survey respondents reported holding
the formal title of CDO, revealing a steady increase over 2016 (57 percent in
2017 compared with 50 percent in 2016). Those organizations implementing
of the CDO also rose since last year, with
47 percent reporting an Office of the CDO implemented (either formally or
informally) in 2017, compared with 23 percent fully implemented in 2016.
maturation of the office of the CDO underlines the acceptance and broader
understanding of the role and recognizes the impact and value CDOs worldwide
are providing," said Michael Moran, research
director at Gartner. "The addition of new talent for increasing
responsibilities, growing budgets and increasing positive engagement across the
C-suite illustrate how central the role of CDO is becoming to more and more
Budgets are also on
the rise. Respondents to the 2017 survey report an average CDO office budget of
$8 million, representing a 23 percent increase from the average of $6.5 million
reported in 2016. Fifteen percent of respondents report budgets more than $20
million, contrasting with 7 percent last year. A further indicator of maturity
is the size of the office of the CDO organization. Last year's study reported
total full time employees at an average of 38 (not distinguishing between
direct and indirect reporting), while this year reports an average of 54 direct
and indirect employees, representing the federated nature of the office of the
CDOs shift from defense to offense to
drive digital transformation
With more than
one-third of respondents saying "increase revenue" is a top three
measure of success, the survey findings show a clear bias developing in favor
of value creation over risk mitigation as the key measure of success for a CDO.
The survey also looked at how CDOs allocate their time. On a mean basis, 45
percent of the CDO's time is allocated to value creation and/or revenue
generation, 28 percent to cost savings and efficiency, and 27 percent to risk
"CDOs and any
data and analytics leader must take responsibility to put data governance and
analytics principles on the digital agenda. They have the right and obligation
to do it," said Mario Faria, managing
vice president at Gartner.
CDOs are responsible for more than
just data governance
According to the survey, in 2017, CDOs are not just focused on
data as the title may imply. Their responsibilities span data management,
analytics, data science, ethics and digital transformation. A larger than
expected percentage of respondents (36 percent) also report responsibility for
profit and loss (P&L) ownership. "This increased level of reported
responsibility by CDOs reflects the growing importance and pervasive nature of
data and analytics across organizations, and the maturity of the CDO role and
function," said Ms. Logan.
In the 2017 survey, 86 percent of respondents ranked "defining
data and analytics strategy for the organization" as their top
responsibility, up from 64 percent in 2016. This reflects a need for creating
or modernizing data and analytics strategies within an increasing dependence on
data and insights within a digital business context.
CDOs are becoming impactful change
agents leading the data-driven transformation
The survey results
provided insight into the kind of activities CDOs are taking on in order to
drive change in their organizations. Several areas seem to have a notable
increase in CDO responsibilities compared with last year:
· Serving as a digital advisor: 71 percent of respondents
are acting as a thought leader on emerging digital models, and helping to
create the digital business vision for the enterprise.
· Providing an external pulse and liaison: 60 percent of respondents are assessing external
opportunities and threats as input to business strategy, and 75 percent of
respondents are building and maintaining external relationships across the
· Exploiting data for competitive edge: 77 percent of respondents are developing new data and
analytics solutions to compete in new ways.
CDOs are diverse and
tackling a wide array of internal challenges
Gartner predicts that
by 2021, the CDO role will be the most gender diverse of all
technology-affiliated C-level positions and the survey results reflect that
position. Of the respondents to Gartner's 2017 CDO survey who provided their
gender, 19 percent were female and this proportion is even higher within large
organizations — 25 percent in organizations with worldwide revenue of more than
$1 billion. This contrasts with 13 percent of CIOs who are women, per the 2018 Gartner CIO Agenda Survey.
When it comes to average age of CDOs, 29 percent of respondents said they were
40 or younger.
The survey respondents
reported that there is no shortage of internal roadblocks challenging CDOs. The
top internal roadblock to the success of the Office of the CDO is "culture
challenges to accept change" — a top three challenge for 40
percent of respondents in 2017. A new roadblock, "poor data
literacy," debuted as the second biggest challenge (35 percent),
suggesting that a top CDO priority is ensuring commonality of shared language
and fluency with data, analytics and business outcomes across a wide range of
organizational roles. When asked about engagement with other C-level
executives, respondents ranked the relationship with the CIO and CTO as the strongest,
followed by a broad, healthy degree of positive engagement across the C-Suite.