Meet the colleagues of a modern marketer: The chief data officer

As part of Marketing Week’s continued focus on careers, we take a closer look at some of the key emerging roles that now sit alongside marketing. First up, the chief data officer.


Gartner predicts that 90% of large companies will have a chief data officer (CDO) role by the end of 2019 so that businesses can drive competitive advantage and improve efficiency through data-driven marketing and analytics.

The report also states, however, that only half will be successful because the role is new to many organisations and therefore will require a certain amount of learning on the job. Gartner also says a huge challenge is creating a data strategy with metrics that tie insight team activities to measurable business outcomes.

But as brands continue to increase digital spend – the latest IAB and PwC study shows digital ad spend grew to £8.6bn in 2015, up 16.4% on a like-for-like basis – the opportunity to capture data is increasing.

Harnessing and analysing this data, while being a huge task, has resulted in more data-led roles and responsibilities where a C-suite representative is required to build on the capabilities across the business.

So rather than functioning in an insight silo, the aims of the CDO are business-wide, based on a combination of insight and business key performance indicators, as well as identifying areas for growth and innovation through a clearly defined data strategy. It requires a relationship with key stakeholders in the business and an understanding of the work done in all departments in order to see how data can be effectively used in every function within a company.

In addition, there is an increasing need for governance and compliance in the use of data, where the CDO plays a guardian-type role over data quality and its use. The EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation will be top of mind for CDOs, with large companies required to appoint a dedicated data protection officer from 2018.

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