Depending on your organization, your Chief Data Officer might be focused more on database, infrastructure and compliance. On the other hand, they may be more focused on analytics and business issues. In some cases, they may be trying to focus on both. 

 

Both paths have merit, of course. As more privacy acts such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are proposed and signed into law, their implications deserve enterprise-level thinking about data governance and data’s overall use. But enabling data-driven decision-making focused on bottom-line impact will always be a popular and necessary strategy as well, given all the data we collect today. 

 

The right flavor of CDO also depends on industry. By their very nature, healthcare and banking are more focused on a defensive, risk management posture toward data. 

 

Evolving to the CDO, or past it? 

You could argue that CDOs will become more focused on analytics and extracting value from data over time, but I could see things evolving differently. As companies become increasingly familiar and comfortable with data, they might just skip over the CDO as chief analytics executive and stick with a role that’s closer to Chief Data Architect. This role would be more focused on the use and proliferation of data in everything that organization does. 

 

Once the use of data becomes fully integrated into marketing, growth, acquisition and all its other potential end uses, do you need to have a separate person worrying about that? Perhaps the Chief Financial Officer is keeping that in mind. Maybe the CDO of the future is there to ensure that all the data is accessible, compliant, safe, and secure. 

 

As an industry we've been pushing on the chief data officer concept for the last several years. It almost makes me wonder, what if CDO never really catches on quite to that level? What if the CDO becomes obsolete before it ever becomes a thing? And would that necessarily be so bad?