Gartner Advice for CIOs on Chief Digital Officers: 5 Takeaways for Finding Harmony

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March 7, 2018

By: Hannah Smalltree

There’s a recent Gartner Insight report titled "What CIOs Should Do About Strategic Chief Digital Officers", by Mark Raskino and Tomas Nielsen, November 2017available compliments of Cazena until March 31, 2018. The Chief Digital Officer title is relatively new, but growing quickly, so it’s worth reviewing the report to get familiar with the emerging definition of the role.

Cazena is offering the research report to our visitors because we’re hearing more about the influence of the Chief Digital Officer and seeing more projects with the ‘digital transformation’ label. Several of these projects seem to look a lot like advanced analytics projects, but with ‘transformational’ new branding. Is it just a new label? As the report explains, digital transformation is a big deal, and CDOs have different goals than the CIO.

Here are five key takeaways from the Gartner report:
 

1. Digital transformation is much bigger than just digitizing data or relabeling of IT. To survive and compete today requires that businesses do things in new ways. These changes go far beyond technology to rethink strategy, culture, LOB functions, and more. A lot of enterprises struggle with digital transformation because the scope of change is massive and disruptive. A CDO is thinking about a different set of factors than a CIO. Therefore, embrace their presence and recognize that there is enough work to keep everyone busy.

2. There are different types of Chief Data Officers. The Gartner report estimates that currently 15% of large enterprises have a CDO role. While all roles vary, the report identifies three common patterns. First, the strategy-oriented CDO drives digital transformation across the entire organization from a business, IT, and cultural perspective. Second, the marketing-oriented CDO focuses more on digital customers’ engagement and current revenue outcomes. The third variety of CDO is design-oriented and works to consolidate agency work and reduce costs. No one type of CDO is a better option than the other. The type of CDO you bring on board is reflective of your business needs.

3. The Chief Data Officer’s role is often not permanent. Gartner estimates that the role will all but disappear in less than a decade, and many tenures will last only a few years until digitalization is embedded in strategy and culture. The primary goal of the CDO is to bring insight, knowledge and strategic skills to successfully drive a company’s digital transformation. Once the CDO has set a solid foundation, they move on to the next assignment. For this reason alone, CIOs shouldn’t feel threatened by the arrival of a CDO.

4. Chief Data Officers are in high demand. Gartner predicts that that hiring for the role will peak before 2019 and the title will disappear by 2025. CIOs can help by supporting the role and being an active part of projects. Otherwise, businesses may be forced to invest more than they originally anticipated to accelerate their digital transformation or they risk being left behind.

5. Hiring a Chief Data Officer (or not) is a tricky, individual equation, but ignore at your peril. Digital transformation is highly visible. Many companies have board-level mandates to show progress and if you don’t know your strategy, you should. You may be asked your opinion, or you may be surprised by a new CDO hire at the office (it’s happened.) The report offers advice to CIOs, ranging from recommending the hiring of a CDO to becoming a CDO themselves.

Learning more about the CDO role also explained the uptick in interest in running digital transformation projects on Cazena’s Data Lake as a Service. While the data lake idea started as more techie concept, the term has become shorthand for a shared data environment. CDO’s projects often require efficient data sharing, reuse and analytics across data sources. So, it makes sense that CDOs would see the value of a cloud data lake like Cazena’s.

Enjoy the report, and wherever you are on your digital transformation journey – please keep Cazena in mind. Cazena’s fully-managed Data Lake as a Service deploys quickly, has DevOps built it and offers full-stack analytics capabilities. Talk about transformational!

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