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August 19, 2020

CDO Stature Rises, But Data Strategies Fall Short

George Leopold

The role of chief data officers (CDO) is expanding as companies look to unlock value in their vast stores of customer and other data, Still, many CDOs still face a misalignment between goals and priorities, a new vendor study funds.

The survey commissioned by enterprise cloud data management vendor Informatica and conducted by IDC found that 59 percent of CDOs report directly to their company’s chief executive, indicating that the “role of the CDO is becoming critical as one of the cornerstones of digital transformation,” the study stressed.

Meanwhile, 80 percent of CDOs’ key performance indicators are linked to business goals such as data privacy, operational efficiencies and revenues.

The down side, IDC found, was a lack of staffing: 71 percent of those polled said they have four or fewer “data stewards” helping to prepare corporate data for analysis despite a growing list of corporate responsibilities and “diverse collaboration requirements.”

Along with generating new data-driven revenue streams and streamlining digital operations, other CDO responsibilities include ensuring compliance with a growing list of data governance rules and formulating data management strategies.

As companies are “accelerating investments in AI and machine learning, the digital economy requires a new generation of data workers and leaders,” said Informatica CEO Amit Walia. “The new, post-pandemic business conditions also taught us that more workers need to understand data and be able to access and use it broadly and consistently.”

CDOs should therefore report to the “highest levels of business leadership,” Walia added.

The CDO study released this week also identified a growing list of challenges for data managers. Chief among them was migrating data operations to the cloud, where 62 percent of those polled cited hurdles related data ingestion, governance and privacy as part of their data warehouse and cloud data lake deployments.

Mapping and cleansing master data as part of application modernization efforts were also cited, as were protecting data stored or transmitted via multi-cloud platforms. Data discovery along with domain identification and classification were also identified as hurdles, as was mapping data lineage.

Despite the rise of CDO, half of those polled by IDC reported that corporate data is still not being used to create value. Shortcomings cited included a general lack of data literacy and skilled data analysts along with tradeoffs between enabling self-service data access while maintaining compliance with privacy and other regulations.

“While 70 percent of organizations have articulated the need to be more data-driven, most still aren’t getting the full value out of their data,” concluded Stewart Bond, IDC’s director of data integration and intelligence software research.

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