The Chief Data Officer

I don’t know if I’d be a chief, but I am glad that more companies are recognizing that data is one of the most valuable assets in most companies and starting to hire Chief Data Officers (CDO) to manage governance and security projects, as well as oversee data quality and management. With Chief Information Officers (CIO) and Chief Technology Officers (CTO), it appears that technology is becoming a force in the executive ranks.

Most of the companies I’ve worked for only had one chief-anything to do with technology. It seemed that anything to do with computing fell under that individual. Adding a CIO and, now, a CDO shows that there there is a complexity in working with computer systems. The infrastructure and architectures of systems are important, but how we capitalize on information is crucial. I see a CIO as more of a business role than a technology one.

The CDO seems to be a specialist that owns the data and ensures that it is well cared for, protected, and more importantly, managed appropriately. That would include knowing what data we have, how it is classified, how data should be protected, when to dispose of it, and how to assess the risk of keeping data around. It seems like a mix of strategic and tactical areas that a CTO or CIO might be tempted to consider low priority issues.

I think data is one of the most important assets in many companies. We are always searching for ways to better understand our environment and make decisions that improve the way our organization works. We depend on data, and these days data is often something we lean on heavily. We need to protect it, especially as more regulations appear all the time that require us to change how we use and handle data.

I don’t know how many of you have a CDO in your organization, or how quickly this will become common. I do know that the growing importance of the functions of this role are impacting more and more people who deal with data. While they might feel like a pain to adjust to, the more that we pay attention to how data is handled, the better off we all will be.

Steve Jones

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