IT is changing at a rapid pace, and so too is IT leadership. With digital transformation a top concern for many organizations and the analytics revolution in full force, companies are carving out new executive roles that might otherwise fall under the guardianship of the CIO. Among the most popular technical additions to the C-suite are the chief data officer, chief analytics officer, and chief digital officer.
Although the three titles describe distinctly different functions, there’s more overlap among them than you might think. That’s because these new positions mostly came into existence for a single reason: A large organization living in a rapidly changing world and facing technological disruption sees the need for an executive who can make the organization as a whole more data-driven, more digitally adept, and better prepared for the challenges of the future.
“If you look at the work all these folks are doing in general, there are elements that tie to the product, to behavioral targeting, and to the revenue model,” says Chris Galy, chief people officer at real estate marketplace Ten-X. “All three functions tie into having the right design and infrastructure to execute on those.” That might once have resided with the CIO and in some organizations it still does. But in many enterprises, overburdened IT departments and their leaders are happy to hand off the challenges of drawing value from data and creating — and staving off — digital disruption to one of these new roles.
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Though all three titles arose from the need to create digital transformation and harness the power of data, each approaches the problem from a slightly different direction. Here’s a closer look at the roles and responsibilities of these emerging IT leaders.
The chief data officer role and responsibilities
Chief data officers oversee the data in their organizations, but just what that means varies from one company to another. In some, the chief data officer mainly manages data, making sure that it’s high-quality and meaningful, and creating the infrastructure to store and deal with it appropriately. This type of chief data officer leaves data analytics to a chief analytics officer or another function. In other companies, the chief data officer is responsible for data analysis and drawing useful insights from data. He or she may also oversee data management and storage, or those tasks might fall to IT.
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