Chief Data Officers charged with increasing customer intimacy, report finds

Telefónica, Gartner, Chief Data Officer

The role of Chief Data Officer is growing in importance, according to a new survey, and customer intimacy is their number one goal.

Gartner interviewed 180 CDOs and other data/analytics leaders from a range of industries for the report.

It found that 54 percent of businesses said the office of the CDO (OCDO) was fully or partially implemented, with a further 20 percent already exploring, planning to explore or planning to implement an OCDO within the next year.

Thirty percent of CDOs said they report directly to the CEO, while 67 percent are acting as a champion or change agent in leading the organisational changes required to create data and analytics capabilities.

When it comes to business objectives, the OCDO is being asked to increase customer intimacy (62 percent), competitive advantage (60 percent) and efficiency (54 percent), according to the survey.

Telcos are increasingly looking at hiring CDOs.

One of the most prominent, Telefónica’s Chema Alonso, has unveiled plans to create a personal data bank for each of its customers to store, manage and sell their own data.

According to the Gartner survey, 24 percent of respondents said that the board of directors wanted the CDO role to be created.

Jamie Popkin, a Gartner VP and Fellow, said: “Whatever prompted a high degree of board-level involvement in the creation of the new operational function must have had a major operational impact, or been thought likely to have such an impact in future.

“The board's involvement, together with the responses pointing to a specific crisis or problem, and the 41 percent 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."

A key relationship for the CDO is the IT leader.

Sixty percent of CDOs said they treated the CIO as an ally or partner, but Popkin warned: "Strategy development, decision-making power and funding will be sources of contention between IT leaders and the OCDO as the role of the CDO becomes more broadly established."

The survey also noted that 15 percent of successful CDOs will move into CEO, COO, CMO or other C-level positions over the next four years.

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