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The Tale of two CDOs - Never the twain shall meet?

Paul Marriott, Chief Operating Officer at SAP Asia Pacific Japan | Aug. 29, 2016
Chief Digital Officers and Chief Data Officers – responsibilities, respect and power to change business outcomes

Creating synergies in the distinctions

Most Chief Digital Officers have their work linked closely to customer-facing initiatives and as a result, the role is understood beyond the realms of the IT circles. Everyone can relate to how the world has rapidly become more digital and the impact of this on their own areas of responsibility. Consequently, ROI discussions around digital transformation, led by the Chief Digital Officer, are easily understood.  

Employees may find the role of a Chief Data Officer more abstract, such that there may be confusion about the fit of the Chief Data Officer in a corporate organization chart. Is this a business or IT role? Constellation Research VP and Principal Analyst, Doug Henschen provides a clear description on the role of the Chief Data Officer, "The Chief Data Officer is a business executive, not a technician, programmer, or data scientist. While data scientists typically have backgrounds as mathematicians or statisticians, Chief Data Officers must understand their employer's industry and market and combine that with a technical understanding of data and its potential for wider use."

As the world becomes more digitized, it is not surprising that roles related to data and digitization continues to proliferate. Both the CDO roles reflect an economy in transit. As organizations find their footing in the new digital world, and as business landscapes continue to be disrupted with technology innovations, the role of an executive in charge of leveraging data for strategic business alignment will also continue to evolve. What is clear is that in the journey to digitally transform, businesses need a leader who can define identify new models for monetization through harnessing data and analytics to reimagine their business.


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