November 3, 2021
min read

Wider responsibility, bigger impact: CDOs in data-driven transformation

Photo by Blake Guidry on Unsplash
Photo by Blake Guidry on Unsplash

One key challenge of becoming a data-driven company is to develop a strong data culture all over the organization.

By definition, being data-driven implies that at all levels of the enterprise, decisions are made based on data. As such, while relying on data has sometimes been seen as the focus on data teams only, it now becomes a required capability for everyone, to be embedded within the company culture.

🗨 In the article “The CDO’s Role in Leading Data-Driven Transformation” by Dr Yasmeen Ahmad, highlights well how this transformation goal impacts the role of the CDO.

💡 Very interesting description of the shift from the CDO being sometimes seen as a back-office role (to deal with setting up foundations, managing governance, etc.) into a more and more complex leading position to drive the transformation.

The CDO now has to impact not only technical capabilities but also to evolve the data literacy and culture and is becoming accountable for this.

✨ To achieve this, the Chief Data Officer has to team up with other executive members - starting with the CEO - and to onboard them on this target!

This is the only way to ensure that this data culture transformation is understood by the organization, embedded into strategies of all dimensions of the enterprise, and as such pushed from the highest level to all the decision-making boards of the company.

To focus on a few examples:

  • 💰 The partnership with the CFO materializes the growing expectation to track and demonstrate tangible benefits from the now-massive data & analytics investments.
  • ℹ️ The partnership with the CIO ensures that the overall information system will evolve to fully support and embed the right technologies to enable data-driven decision-making.
  • 📚 The partnership with the COO ensures that the core capabilities of the enterprises are embracing the transformation and that internal processes are evolving along.
  • Etc.

We feel the growing pressure and expectations on the shoulders of CDOs, and this needs to constantly balance:

  • Being the gatekeeper (for platforms, practices, compliance, etc.) and stimulating innovation
  • Building data & analytics capabilities (teams, processes, and platforms) and animating data literacy programs
  • Animating an ambitious data transformation roadmap and making sure it is fully supported by executives

And in your opinion, what are the best tools for the CDOs to manage and coordinate all activities under his umbrella, to support the communication and reporting needs, to ensure alignment both with executives and the numerous individuals involved in initiatives?

If you are a CDO or working with CDOs - don't hesitate to share your experience!

Further reading: The CDO’s Role in Leading Data-Driven Transformation (

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