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How the CDO reached the C-suite and where it goes from here


With people producing more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day, it’s only been natural that data and analytics have spread to the C-suite in the form of the chief data officer (CDO) position. At first, it happened in the financial (Cathryne Clay Doss, Capital One, 2002) and internet technology sectors (Usama Fayyad, Yahoo, 2004), before spreading to municipalities and the federal government.

It’s now taken as a given that a large organization should have an executive responsible for data strategy, maintenance, policy, and stewardship. The way to use raw numbers and letters to mitigate risk and increase revenue isn’t just to inject big data algorithms into business intelligence. It’s to promote a culture of data, so that regular employees from operations to customer service can get comfortable using sophisticated data-driven tools in their everyday workplace interactions to cross-sell, upsell, and increase efficiency with ease.

These successes have led CDOs to a crossroads of sorts. According to Gartner, CDOs have become accountable, impactful change agents—but they haven’t touched their potential. Data and analytics leadership is a step in the right direction, but in the future, they will need to bring to its organization more than modest results and culture change: it will need to bring a vision of a new type of company.

Data reciprocity: using data responsibly and intelligently

Such a staggering amount of information can be analyzed only in its rawest form: numbers, letters, symbols. Yet these character strings represent something more: our essence as human beings—the people we talk to, the places we visit, the products we buy, the money we move.



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