Chief information officers are facing increased data management responsibilities, but many can’t shoulder this burden alone, and that is driving increased hiring of data professionals or the appointment of chief data officers.

Those are among the findings of a new study by Experian Data Quality, which looked at “The Role of the CIO in data management.” Based on interviews with more than 250 CIOs from large organizations, the study finds that a majority have seen their data management responsibilities increase in the past 12 months.

The CIO’s main responsibilities in terms of data management are to improve the bottom line through lowering the cost of compliance, to provide platforms to support analytics and to manage data value and risk, the study announcement explains.

“Organizations are starting to look at a more centralized strategy around data management,” Thomas Schutz, senior vice president and general manager of Experian Data Quality told Information Management. “There needs to be someone who owns the strategic asset of data. It might be a CDO, CIO or another executive; but businesses are starting to realize ownership is a key component of getting data right.”

Getting It Right Is Hard

Alas, many organizations are struggling to get it “right.”

“The biggest challenge is data quality issue resolution,” Schutz says. “That is, organizations understanding they have a problem, but they don’t know how to fix it. That issue relates to the people, processes and technology around data. You need someone to take ownership, technology to find the problem, and then you need a process/technology that can fix the issue. All three of those components have to be in order.”

Confirming those points, the study revealed the following:

• In the past 12 months, 92 percent of CIOs have experienced problems as a result of poor data quality • The biggest challenge related to managing data — experienced by 46 percent of CIOs — is data quality issue resolution • Sixty-three percent of CIOs say their ability to exploit data for business insights could use improvement Data Inaccuracies on the Rise

Schultz says he is surprised by at least one of the above study findings.

“We have known for some time that there is a gap between data usage and how information is managed within businesses,” Schutz notes. “That is why you see the majority of CIOs seeing some sort of problem as a result of data inaccuracies.”

“That said, I was surprised that only half of the CIOs felt increasing pressure around data management. Given how much data is being leveraged by all parts of the business, I would have thought almost all of them were feeling some sort of pressure,” Schutz continues.

Some of this gap could be attributed to the creation of a chief data officer role, Schulz. But that is only a partial explanation.

“That position is still so new that I do not think it accounts for the entire deficit. I think there is still a fundamental gap in desired usage of data and the level of trust and accuracy that exists around data today, although it is starting to narrow,” Schutz says.

For those organizations not in the position to appoint a CDO, the CIO handles most of the centralization of the data management strategy. The key is that someone at an executive level has responsibility.

“Data is of critical importance to organizations and no longer can be managed in siloed, one-off approaches based on individual department needs, as it has been in the past,” Schutz explains. “There are a number of new roles being created in businesses to manage and manipulate data. However, a central key owner on the C-level is needed. The CIO, while strapped for time, is serving that role in many organizations. The CIO can help put technology, people and processes in place to better manage data and ensure the organization sees value from that asset,” Schutz concludes.

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