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CDOs lack organisational design experience, says Gartner

Research firm identifies immaturity in the organisational design of the set-ups led by the new breed of chief data officer and offers a menu of four design options

Research firm Gartner has identified a lack of sophistication among the new breed of chief data officers when it comes to organisational design.

The firm says there are now 1,000 CDOs worldwide – up from 400 in 2014.

Mario Faria, research vice-president at Gartner, said: “Most CDOs are new to the role and often have little experience with managing large teams or designing and changing organisational structures.

“The CDO organisational design is about people. It is easy enough to think about what kind of CDO an organisation needs in order to meet its business goals, but it can be harder to put in place the right people to deliver on that structure.

“It is vital that CDOs think critically about what skills and behaviours will be required by the office of the CDO in the short, medium and long term.”

Gartner recently counselled the new breed of chief data officer (CDO) to build political alliances of trust to overcome the high levels of resistance they typically get from IT departments.

In a recent interview with Computer Weekly, Nick Millman, managing director, big data and analytics delivery lead for Europe, Africa and Latin America at Accenture, said his firm’s clients were investing a lot of time and resources in getting the organisational design of their data functions fit for business purpose.

“Organisational changes do tend to move quite slowly, but we are seeing a trend toward a hub-and-spoke model, where you might have a centre of excellence with the critical mass of your data science capability, then hubs in each of the key business areas,” he said.

Read more about the organisational design of the data function

Gartner has come up with “four organisational design principles that CDOs should apply when designing their office”. These are: the CDO organisation as a business service provider; the CDO being “the business”; the CDO as an “engine room”; and the dispersal of the exploitation of data assets throughout an organisation, which Gartner calls “everyone is a CDO” organisation.

In the first of these models, the “CDO organisation as a business service provider”, the office of the CDO “delivers operational data services that are used by both internal and external users”, it says.

Where the CDO organisation “is the business”, the “office delivers internal and external data services that drive business transformation and differentiation”.

In the so-called “engine room” scenario, the CDO function “delivers operational data services that are focused on the needs of the internal users”.

And the “everyone is a CDO” model puts the stress on “data assets [being] used aggressively by business leaders and individual contributors to break through traditional perimeters of business”.

Gartner has a dedicated CDO programme in its Master Data Management summit in London on 2-3 March. For more information about the four models, it refers clients to Successful organizational design principles for the office of the chief data officer.

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