The Technology Economy Shuffles The C-Suite - InformationWeek
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11/18/2016
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Jessica Davis
Jessica Davis
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The Technology Economy Shuffles The C-Suite

Chief Data 0fficers have been on the rise in enterprise organizations for the past few years. Do they belong in the IT organization, or should they have their own organization?

Enterprises that harness their data, large and small, can turn it into value by providing greater insight into customer needs, creating new products and services that drive revenue, and finding areas where businesses can cut costs. That has made leveraging data a strategic investment area for many businesses looking to compete in a technology-driven economy against the likes of digital natives such as Uber and Airbnb.

Recognizing that data has aligned with business strategies in enterprise organizations, more companies have added a new member to the C-suite, the Chief Data Officer.

In some organizations this executive actually reports into the CIO. After all, this new executive is dealing with technology and providing technology services to the business as a whole. However, in other organizations the CDO is reporting into other C-suite executives -- the CFO, the CMO, or even the CEO.

Just what's going on with this title and this role in enterprises today? Analyst and consultant organizations are providing perspective.

A new survey from Gartner shows that more CDOs are now reporting to CEOs than to CIOs, marking a change in the reporting structure for this role, and perhaps in how technology is perceived within organizations. Gartner's managing VP of the office of the CDO, Mario Faria, has been following the CDO's rise for a few years now and said he was surprised by how quickly this reporting shift happened. While it was expected, it's well ahead of what Gartner's forecast had called for, he told InformationWeek recently.

(Image: Tashatuvango/iStockphoto)

(Image: Tashatuvango/iStockphoto)

Gartner views the CDO role as more strategic and more customer-facing and more likely to drive revenue. That's different from the CIO role, which is more about infrastructure and vendor management. Indeed, Gartner says that the CDO role may be a stepping stone for CIOs looking to advance their careers to hit more strategic areas of the business.

[Need a raise? Read 10 Tech Jobs Set For Big Pay Raises In 2017.]

However, in some organizations, that may not be necessary. CIOs hold a strong enough position to be able to branch out into more strategic areas.

Another new report shows more CIOs moving into more strategic roles within their enterprises. CEB Global's annual IT Budget Survey found that among CIOs with responsibilities outside of IT, 71% spend more of their time on strategic duties than on non-strategic duties. These CIOs are adding responsibility for digital strategy, digital product planning, or digital workforce planning, for example, to their list of duties, according to Andrew Horne, IT practice leader at CEB Global.  

In this scenario, many CIOs are already moving into more strategic roles, and they have other managers underneath them to manage traditional IT.

That's the scenario at ADP, best-known as a payroll service management company. ADP's top technology executive Stuart Sackman holds a dual role over the entire technology organization -- traditional IT (infrastructure) and strategic, product-focused R&D. That's because so many of ADP's services are delivered via the cloud now, entwining infrastructure with end products and services.

ADP's not the only company out there that now offers its services or products via the cloud. As more companies use cloud for go-to-market, it makes sense for CIOs who are prepared for the role to take on greater responsibilities.

Technology is more than infrastructure as enterprise organizations move to compete in a technology-driven economy.

And, in this scenario, it makes sense for the CDO to report to the CIO.

Jessica Davis has spent a career covering the intersection of business and technology at titles including IDG's Infoworld, Ziff Davis Enterprise's eWeek and Channel Insider, and Penton Technology's MSPmentor. She's passionate about the practical use of business intelligence, ... View Full Bio
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