Half of chief digital officers should become de facto chief data officers — Gartner

Digital business moments, together with the use of data and analytics assets to maximise value, place additional pressure on chief digital officers, who are responsible for instigating and shepherding endeavours in the enterprise.

These aspects also underline the CDO’s accountability to maximise economic value. But despite both roles being critical for an organisation’s success, not all businesses have chief digital officers or CDOs.

According to Gartner, organisations will not be able to succeed going forward without proper data and analytics leadership in place, and its 2021 Board of Directors Survey found that 78% of respondents feel that analytics will emerge as the top game-changing technology from the Covid-19 crisis.

Along with a rise in demand for data and analytics since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold has been a change in urgency to drive digital transformation.

“Chief digital officers and CDOs have pivotal roles in accelerating digital business and building a data-driven organisation,” said Mike Rollings, distinguished research vice-president at Gartner.

“Some organisations may not have the luxury of having both roles, but the absence of executive focus on either of these critical endeavours can undermine the other.

“The success of these endeavours is intertwined – a digital business cannot exist without data and analytics.”

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While chief digital officers are instigators of change making their role more transient, taking on the duties usually taken on by the CDO can solidify the longevity of the position within the enterprise.

Conversely, CDOs in organisations without a chief digital officer should assume digital initiative responsibilities, says Gartner.

The research also revealed leading digital transformation to be the top skill and capability expectation for CDOs, which further expands the role of data and analytics.

Rollings continued: “It’s time to dispense with conventional beliefs about D&A that it only responds to business needs instead of acting as a catalyst.

“Or that it is merely a support service that delivers capabilities to a targeted audience, rather than a widely practiced enterprise competency.

“The role of the CDO will either succeed by delivering business transformation or fail by overly focusing on tactical and responsive concerns.”