Decision-makers cast a widening net for insights into their customers and operations: 85% of decision-makers prioritize the use of data insights, incorporating quantitative information into the decision-making process. And their demands have become more sophisticated — not just historical views of performance but actionable insights to guide decisions. Moving from dashboards and reports to advanced analytics and AI requires more and more data. That growing appetite for data means that companies must get their internal data house in order — breaking down data silos, establishing consistency in definitions and formats, and encouraging enterprise-wide collaboration.

Yet internal data isn’t enough. As one banking chief data officer (CDO) rightly recognized, “With our own data, we can only look internally. We need to see industry benchmarks, regional trends, what waves we can ride in on.” Increasingly, companies rely on external data to better understand their customers and the context in which they do business. More than 70% of global data and analytics decision-makers are expanding their ability to use external data; another 17% plan to in the next 12 months.

Moscow traffic jam taken from Smolensky SquareAs data paves the information superhighway, its growing use means that companies need to direct traffic. Data leaders become not only “traffic cop,” but “bus driver” (with passengers along for the ride) and “driving instructor” (teaching others to navigate their own data use) as well. Data leaders must establish the “rules of the road” for data, ensuring that its use does not lead to collisions and gridlock.

Who Is The New Chief Data Officer?

Forrester has recently published new research on the evolving role of a chief data officer. While CDO job descriptions vary, the common factor is increasing executive responsibility and accountability for all things data, from capture all the way through to its use to drive business value. The purview of a CDO now extends along the entire data value chain. The role is not just about protecting or locking down data, it’s about facilitating, discovering, and encouraging data access, and it’s about promoting data use to deliver insights that drive actions and outcomes.

Explore these new reports:

Chief Data Officers: Evolve Your Teams To Accelerate Impact From Data Insights

In many organizations, the data leadership role — regardless of whether that role comes with the CDO, chief analytics officer, chief insights officer, or some other title — has evolved to encompass both data and analytics. With the right data leader, a firm’s transformation to an insights-driven business is much more likely to succeed. With a single leader responsible for the entire data value chain, organizations can ensure an equilibrium in the supply and demand for data. The report shows how CDOs and other data insights leaders accelerate their organization’s journey to become an insights-driven business and serve as change agents. It also illustrates how new CDOs in multiple industries and multiple regions are measured on the business value they deliver.

Chief Data Officers: Accelerate Insights-Driven Business Impact In 12 Steps

The CDO role has evolved to reflect the need to be insights driven. Successful data insights leaders understand the needs of business partners and employ resources to deliver relevant insights and guide actions; they translate insights into business impact. And most don’t do it alone. Instead, they establish their teams as a hub that can guide insights practices across the organization. But where do they start and how do they achieve that herculean task? This report offers 12 steps to build, scale, and sustain an effective data insights function.

Hiring A Chief Data Officer? Use Our Recommendations And Ready-To-Post Job Description As A Guide

This report helps readers understand what they should expect their Chief Data Officers to be: leaders, educators, innovators, and more. And as importantly, it outlines what they are not: a pure technologist, a symbolic figurehead, or a “yes” person. The report also provides a comprehensive job description that can be posted as-is or customized as needed. That job description includes the overall job responsibilities and specific areas of focus such as strategy and execution, organization and team building, literacy skills and culture, and technology. Finally, it provides guidance on the desired skills and experience the role requires in most organizations, including “energy and a clear passion for the role.”

Please set up an inquiry to explore the evolution of the role further. We’d love to hear from you.

And stay tuned for upcoming research on how new approaches to data governance establish these new “rules of the road.”