How do you become a Chief Data Officer? - Great Learning
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy. Learn More

How do you become a Chief Data Officer?

Data has become the backbone of businesses around the world. Enterprise data is an organization’s most crucial resource because it helps in intelligent decision making and provides insights on how to improve business outcomes. Gathering, analyzing, and applying data wisely are helping business operations increase productivity and enable a better customer experience. That’s why the position of a Chief Data Officer is a new C-suite position that has been emerging.  Broadly, the role of a CDO is to transform data insights into business value, driving overall business growth.

Where do CDOs come from?

CDO can be from a varied set of backgrounds, and not necessarily from IT only. As per a report from Gartner, only 9% of today’s CDOs come from an IT background. Others come from Data Warehousing, Business Intelligence, Data Governance and more. Professionals from finance, operations, marketing, and sales and business development background could also make a switch to data and analytics roles to eventually become a CDO with superior business acumen. Wherever they come from, they just need to have a knack for understanding data and teasing out insights from it.

Education, skills, and experience required to become a Chief Data Scientist
To take your career on a path that ultimately lands you in the position of a Chief Data Officer, one needs to have a specific skill set and knowledge along with a productive professional career in specific roles and fields, as listed below:

Education: A PhD in a data-related field such as data science, computer science, information management systems, statistics, or analytics would put you on the right path. If that sounds too intensive, a PG program in Business Analytics and Business Intelligence can be helpful in upskilling as a data scientist or analyst. It will help people from non-IT and non-analytics backgrounds to make a move in these roles and grow professionally to become a CDO.
Experience: You’d need more than ten years of experience as a senior data analyst or senior data science professional with hands-on experience in leading a team.  Experience with building data science initiatives while rooting and advocating for analytics in an organization will also help.
Skills: A CDO is not very different from other C-Suite executives from a business perspective. Good leadership and interpersonal skills, effective communication skills, ability to collaborate and engage with other departments, to drive the most value from data.
The biggest forecast of the year by Gartner reflects a scenario where 90% of the enterprise organizations will have a Chief Data Officer by the end of this year, i.e., 2019. Seems like good news right? But on the flip side, it also forecasts that only 50% of these CDOs will turn out to be the successful ones. Which begs the question:

How to be a successful CDO?

The three main characteristics that will help the CDO being a successful one are:

Emerge as the leader for a data-driven business
Even though it is an emerging role, the rising number of organizations appointing a CDO reflects the value of data analytics and the inclination towards it. It is imperative for CDOs to oversee a data-driven business transformation to yield a significant shift in performance through value creation, improved risk management, and operational efficiency.

Be the chief change agent
Successful CDOs will be responsible to influence the culture of a workplace to be actively driven by data, with an unwavering focus on information and its analysis. As the role matures, the CDO could align processes to extract business value from data and streamline business and cultural preferences within the organization.

Develop strong links between data, analytics, business processes, and outcomes
By breaking silos and focusing on the context of data analytics in different domains, CDOs can dictate the ways in which analytics is incorporated with the business processes. The outcome of these data-driven processes is the key to creating business relevancy. CDOs can establish themselves as the catalyst for data-driven business value.

The Bottom Line
If you want to become a Chief Data Officer in the future, make sure you know and understand everything about the roles and responsibilities of a CDO. Prepare accordingly and upskill in the domains critical to becoming a CDO. Gain relevant experience and understand the real-life applications of the Data Science and Analytics concepts to build a skill set that justifies your candidature for the position of a CDO. While seeking courses to upskill, make sure to consider GL’s Data Science, Business Analytics, and Business Intelligence programs.

Subscribe to Our Blog