Support for the role of the Chief Data Officer is growing among businesses worldwide.

This comes across in a new survey of 287 CDOs, chief analytics officers and other high-level data and analytics leaders from around the world. The 2017 study, conducted by technology researcher Gartner, revealed growing use of the Chief Data Officer title and an increase in the number of organizations that have instituted an Office of the CDO. Moreover, for the first time, more than half of CDOs now report directly to a member of the C-suite, another board member or the business owner.

"The steady maturation of the office of the CDO underlines the acceptance and broader understanding of the role and recognizes the impact and value CDOs worldwide are providing," notes Michael Moran, a research director at Gartner.

Budgets are also on the rise. Survey respondents report an average CDO office budget of $8 million—up 23 percent from the $6.5 million average reported in 2016. Of the 2017 budgets, 15 percent top $20 million, compared with only 7 percent last year. Likewise, the number of full-time employees who report directly and indirectly to the CDO has grown from an average of 38 in 2016 to an average of 54 in 2017.

Further, as the role of the chief data officer continues to gain traction, the Gartner researchers found that the function is playing an increasingly pivotal role in the digital transformation of many companies.

"While the early crop of CDOs was focused on data governance, data quality and regulatory drivers, today's CDOs are also delivering tangible business value," says Gartner research director Valerie Logan.

This is reflected in the survey results, which show that, on a mean basis, 45 percent of the CDO's time is devoted to value creation and revenue generation, while the remainder is split between cost savings (28 percent) and risk mitigation (27 percent) initiatives.

Broader responsibilities
In concert with this, CDO responsibilities have broadened and now span data management, analytics, data science and ethics, as well as digital transformation.
"This increased level of reported responsibility by CDOs reflects the growing importance and pervasive nature of data and analytics across organizations—and the maturity of the CDO role and function," observes. Logan.

The survey results provide additional insight into the kind of activities CDOs are taking on in order to drive organizational change. Among them:

· 86 percent of respondents ranked "defining data and analytics strategy for the organization" as their top responsibility, up from 64 percent in 2016.

  • 71 percent are acting as a thought leader and helping to create the digital business vision for the enterprise.

  • 60 percent are assessing external opportunities and threats, and 75 percent are building and maintaining external relationships across their organization's ecosystem.

  • 77 percent are developing new data and analytics solutions to compete in new ways.

Key challenges that were cited included getting their organizations to accept change and combatting data illiteracy.

Compared with other top technology-oriented positions, the CDO role is less of a male bastion. Among the respondents who provided their gender, 19 percent were female, and this rose to 25 percent among large organizations with revenue of more than $1 billion. In contrast, only 13 percent of CIOs are women.

A substantial 29 percent of the respondents indicated that they were 40 years-old or younger.

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