Data is everywhere in today's corporate world, not just at organizations that make or use advanced software, but at businesses of all kinds. While many companies have made it this far by tasking existing department heads with managing their increasing stores of information, it's likely time to formalize this process and appoint a chief data officer.
Defining the role and responsibilities of the CDO will be important for any business hiring such a leader for the first time. Determining which functions go to the CDO and which stay with the chief information officer will set a helpful template for the talent search to come. When it's time to find an ideal candidate for data oversight, companies can turn to executive search partners to ensure they aren't wasting time or effort on a non-optimized internal effort.
Generalized experience needed
While "data" is right in the CDO's title, IT Pro Portal offered a reminder that these leaders should have broad skill sets, going beyond data management to encompass general IT expertise and business acumen. Since data has become the lifeblood of companies, informing decisions in all departments and sections, CDOs should be ready to communicate with other departments and work on a variety of tasks and projects.
Data security, analytics and presentation abilities make up the core of a CDO's expertise. These set CDOs up to take charge of all data-centric operations at their respective organizations. Each of these skills is vital. Security knowledge is necessary to prevent costly data breaches or misalignment with regulations. Analytics acumen will enable CDOs to turn data sets into useful, value-driving assets. Interpersonal data sharing is also vital, especially in terms of giving decision-making aid to executives.
The general IT knowledge and strategic business background possessed by successful CDOs assist them in helping organizations reach objectives. IT Pro Portal noted that cloud computing comprehension is an important area of CDO expertise, alongside artificial intelligence and machine learning understanding. Strategically speaking, ideal CDO candidates will have consulting and project management experience.
Rising complexity emerging
Not only are CDOs stepping into ambitious and multifaceted roles, they are picking up new responsibilities as years pass and data use becomes more difficult. Forbes CIO Network contributor Randy Bean focused on the need for responsible and ethical information storage and use. When data is viewed purely as a value-generation tool, companies may miss the ethical complications that come with learning an increasing amount about their employees and customers. Privacy is a major concern, and organizations with large-scale data collection efforts are at risk of suffering reputation damage.
In addition to simply avoiding privacy problems, companies can actively push toward socially responsible data use. Bean has witnessed this movement, with data-using companies launching philanthropic and humanitarian partnerships. This is a new frontier for data usage, one that would have been unthinkable in the early days of customer data collection. An ideal CDO at a large enterprise may be able to determine whether such initiatives work for that company.
When it's time to hire a first CDO or find someone new for this cutting-edge role, an executive search partner can get firms the right people on a short timeline. At YES Partners, we provide the kind of hands-on talent search assistance that job boards and tech tools cannot. To see some of the roles we have already successfully placed, click here.
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