Businesses need Chief Data Officers to go the extra mile. Source: Shutterstock

Businesses need Chief Data Officers to go the extra mile. Source: Shutterstock

Gartner says the Chief Data Officer’s role needs to evolve

COMPANIES keen on climbing the digital maturity curve, especially those that want to leverage data assets to delight customers and grow their business, need a chief data officer (CDO).

Although business leaders understand the importance of the role, a recent Gartner report suggests that organizations need to re-orient professionals to become more product-centric rather than being project-centric.

In the think tank’s eyes, this is the rise of the CDO 4.0. In fact, its the most natural evolution of the professional.

“CDO 1.0 was focused exclusively on data management. CDO 2.0 started to embrace analytics. CDO 3.0 led and participated quite heavily in digital transformation,” explained Gartner Research Board VP and Program Director Mario Faria.

“This fourth version of the CDO is focused on products and on managing profit and loss instead of just being responsible for driving D&A projects and programs”

The role of the chief data officer isn’t easy. It involves gaining an understanding of how the organization collects, stores, uses, and shares data and then involves helping the business capitalize on that data.

At present, the CDO doesn’t shoulder any revenue growth responsibilities — rather, their goal is to drive the overall adoption of a data-driven approach within the organization.

However, after the proposed evolution and a focus on becoming more product-centric, Gartner envisions CDOs will play an active role in managing profit and loss, and therefore, a larger role in how the organization leverages data to innovate and charge ahead with reinventing their business model.

“Product-centric approaches make it easier to rapidly innovate and iterate because they focus on user experience, evolving requirements, and the strategic differentiation for what you are delivering,” said Faria.

For CDOs keen on adopting a product-centric approach, here are three things to think about:

# 1 | Think platform first

“Most data & analytics (D&A) leaders believe D&A platforms play a meaningful role in their D&A future, though scale and scope differ by company, maturity and investment levels.”

Product-centric CDOs need to think about the data first because that’s what the new product will be built on.

If this piece of the puzzle isn’t in place, the team and business will be unable to leverage the full strength of the company’s data assets.

# 2 | Change investment models

According to Gartner, CDOs need to work with business heads to transform existing investment models that serve one area or one team on an individual basis. That’s not a scalable model in the digital era.

Instead, CDOs need to create and leverage platforms that can be scaled across the enterprise.

“In the product line management model, product lines are funded based on the business capabilities they support. Common or shared capabilities — such as infrastructure, technology, D&A — are funded based on the anticipated and aggregated needs of the product lines they support.”

# 3 | Use a proven product management methodology

“Not all CDOs will be able to make the transition from a project or programs mindset to a product mentality. CDOs who are able to deliver results using an operating model that hides details and is focused on the better, more scalable usage of the data assets, will succeed.”

CIOs need to help define the vision for the future and explain why a product-driven method is key to accelerating the company’s journey to digital.

Gartner reminds CDOs that fundamental to their transition into CDO 4.0, is the definition of their role, its vision and objectives, goals, scope, and metrics — specifically, the metrics for transitioning toward a customer-centric approach for innovation.