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How CDOs Drive Digital Transformation

With external forces like COVID-19 driving businesses to operate increasingly online, companies are now able to collect and utilise more data than ever. However, without a technical leader equipped to enable data usability, availability and efficiency, important data may not be transformed into clear insights and accompanying actions. A survey by Exasol found that 72% of IT directors surveyed” worry that their inability to generate insights through the analysis of data will have a negative impact on financial performance”.

This is where Chief Data Officers come into the picture. C-Suite executives, Chief Data Officers can transform data insights into opportunities that drive business growth, playing a key role in revenue growth through digital innovation and efficiencies. They have an equally responsible role in driving business strategy and are often relied upon by CFO and CEO due to their ability to justify decision-making and even predict future results. IBM research indicates that almost two-thirds of businesses that outperform their competitors have appointed a CDO, positioning the role of a CDO as ‘future-proof’.

What are CDOs?

Not to be confused with CIOs and CTOs, Chief Data Officers are responsible for the collection, usage and governance of all data within an organisation. Their primary responsibility is to make sure a business is properly utilising one of its most valuable assets – its data, while also ensuring the company is complying with strict and everchanging data collection and utilisation laws and regulations. In recent years, the role of a CDO has evolved to become a key stakeholder in business decision-making, driving digital transformation and innovation. But how exactly are they doing this?

Digital Transformation through Data

Gone are the day where CDOs focussed solely on data governance. New CDOs are positioned with the task of providing additional value through the use of data – be this through tools, processes, or technologies. While the responsibilities of a CDO are constantly changing, there are three key ways they can drive digital transformation for businesses.

Data strategy

Utilising data to develop a clear, achievable, and innovative business strategy is a key responsibility of a CDO. This can include planning resources, maintaining relationships with key digital stakeholders, and assessing internal and external opportunities and threats – and it doesn’t just stop there. CDOs are also expected to establish digital processes and plan digital resources.

Data Innovation

CDOs work with teams across the business to generate innovative digital solutions, expanding the businesses digital ecosystem. Alongside the CIO, CDOs are responsible for developing industry-leading data capabilities and infrastructures. Working closely with analytics and IT teams, CDOs are integral in ensuring the right tools and processes are established to allow for efficient data collection.

Influencing culture and improving data literacy

A key spokesperson for the value of data, CDOs are expected to lead businesses towards a digital-first culture where relevant staff members feel confident utilising data and data tools to make everyday business decisions. 

Gatekeepers of business data, CDOs have shifted from behind the scenes data governance specialists to boardroom decision-makers. Their unique ability to harness data in a way that allows businesses to make informed decisions makes them an invaluable team member.  While a relatively new title, CDOs are expected to become commonplace in market-leading businesses.


Ways to establish yourself as a CDO

For those working in data science, the new but highly coveted Chief Data Officer is a career pinnacle. However, becoming a Chief Data Officer requires a robust technical understanding complemented with strong leadership skills. For those currently in the field of data science who are looking to progress to C-Suite executive roles, the University of Adelaide’s online Master of Data Science (Applied) offers technical training through best-in-class tools, techniques and theories. If you have any questions about the online Master of Data Science (Applied) or around enrolment, make an appointment to speak with an advisor today.

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