The steady rise of the Chief Data Officer


2. Companies aren’t walking the walk

Despite the increase in data mentions, not all companies are fully committed to the role of the CDO. As the scale of available data grows exponentially, the need to make sense and capitalise on its insights for value increases alongside it, but so far, that hasn’t translated to chief data executives in the majority of surveyed companies. That said, nearly a quarter (21 percent) of the organisations in the study do have someone in the role at a senior executive level. 

In the 2,500 largest publicly listed companies, 530 CDOs were found dispersed across the globe. The US, at the top of the list, has 272 CDOs in these companies, France has 37 and Australia, 6th highest, has just 12. Sweden and Spain have four each. Of course, the nature of the survey data, being the largest publicly listed companies, will mean that results skew in favour of North America and Europe, but that doesn’t mean that CDOs aren’t on the rise in Australia – nor that there are only 12 nationwide. Our work with clients tells us that greater numbers of CDOs are being appointed locally – and more are on the way.

It is also important to note that some companies haven’t appointed a CDO directly, instead giving parts of their role to other executives, such as the Chief Digital Officer or CIO. Additionally, many companies have multiple owners of data throughout their organisations.  

Pleasingly, 58 percent of the CDOs in the study were C-suite members, an indication that organisations understand the integral role of data to business strategy. And the role, while still emerging, is gaining traction and recognition. Almost half of the CDOs in the study have been appointed since 2019, and at the current growth rate, half of the organisations studied could have a CDO in place in the next three years.



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