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The new hero of big data and analytics: The Chief Data Officer


Data needs a leader

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As the new natural resource of the twenty-first century, data has the power to transform industries and business models; but it equally has the power to overwhelm systems and stymie growth. As executives witness data’s proven impact on performance and innovation and recognize its strategic significance, they also realize the growing need for a leader whose primary role is to understand and advocate on behalf of data. As a result, leading organizations across industries around the globe are appointing Chief Data Officers to deliver data-driven growth and innovation that matters.

The Chief Data Officer is a business leader who creates and executes data and analytics strategies to drive business value. The role is responsible for defining, developing and implementing the strategy and methods by which the organization acquires, manages, analyzes and governs data. It also carries the strategic responsibility to drive the identification of new business opportunities through more effective and creative use of data.

In this expert perspective, we define the emerging role of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) to provide context and considerations for business and organizational executives who now have a mandate to create greater value from their organization’s data. We posit that the addition of a CDO to the organization’s executive team will enable greater focus and optimized use of this critical strategic asset.

Our insights are based on our collective experience working with clients worldwide and interviews with more than a dozen CDOs from early-adopter organizations. These CDOs share their on-the-ground experience with defining a new C-level role, as well as the challenges they have overcome along the way.


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Meet the authors

Marc Teerlink

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, Chief Business Strategist, IBM Watson Group, IBM


Brett Gow

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, Corporate Transformation Leadership


Kingshuk Banerjee

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, Associate Partner



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