45% of companies and governments worldwide have appointed a Chief Data Officer, and another 16% say they are planning to implement the role within the next 12 months. This is according to a new Forrester survey of 3,000 global business and technology decision-makers. An overwhelming number of companies have recognized their data immaturity, and the need for strong leadership to overcome big data challenges – and the results seem clear: top performing companies (10%+ YoY revenue growth) are 64% more likely to appoint a CDO.


According to the research, there are four typical CDO focus areas:


  1. The technology focused CDO rectifies remedial data practices
  2. The governance focused CDO builds on the data foundation
  3. An insights focused CDO drives customer-obsession, and business optimization
  4. The culture tzar – the change agent- embeds data into the ethos


While an equal share of CDOs report to the CEO and CIO – about a third respectively – there is an underlying demand across the board: to act as a bridge between IT and the business – while stressing independence from both. Should the CIO feel threatened? Some may, according to the research. But in reality, data technology is still within the CIO’s wheelhouse. In fact, “in many cases, CIOs are only too painfully aware that they have too many things on their plates to give the data agenda the attention that it needs,” says Forrester’s Gene Leganza. Adding this additional role means CIOs can do a better job executing their own agenda, he adds.


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