At the end of 2015, research firm Gartner Inc. estimated that 25 percent of large global organizations had already hired a chief data officer (CDO). By 2019, the firm expects that number to reach 90 percent.

"This rapid shift is the tip of the iceberg," said Ted Friedman, research vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "It represents a much deeper change occurring throughout most organizations. Practitioners of distinctive data and analytics disciplines will need to broaden their understanding, and work more closely with others to realize the benefits of using data and analytics to capture transformative business opportunities and mitigate risks.”

Organizations are increasingly creating a single data and analytics team with a new leadership role, as the rise of the CDO demonstrates, Friedman said. As silos are broken down professionals in this area work in cross-functional teams more than ever.

The shift toward digital business is at its core a drive to better collect, manage and exploit data assets and apply analytics for richer insights, the firm said. By 2018, Gartner predicts that more than half of large organizations will compete using advanced analytics and proprietary algorithms, disrupting entire industries.

This, in turn, is being driven by the proliferation of devices, connected "things," connectivity and computing power—all of which creates more opportunities to collect data, analyze it, and potentially monetize it.

The opportunities to generate business value from data and analytics are practically infinite, Gartner said.

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