When and Where Does a Chief Data Officer Make Sense?

Posted by Deniz A. Johnson, MBA

on 13 October 2014

Big Data has been around for a long time.   Now it’s a buzzword, and there’s a lot of buzz around is the newly-created position of Chief Data Officer.   A CDO is a necessary position for some organizations and not for others.  It’s necessary if you already have a data-driven process and your business relies on heavy data scrubbing – for instance, a quantitative investment firm needs to rapidly analyze trading data, index data, client and vendor data from multiple feeds and data formats.  So data scrubbing is required, with the sort of process that takes into account the context and nuances of each data set, and how it will be ultimately used.  For example, for financial services firms, “country of origin”  data has different meanings, and based on each meaning, is used differently for financial reporting at the local level, country level, and by the US government.

Every organization has “big data” and a chief data officer, even if not by name.   CIOs need to create a common way of processing data to avoid each group coming up with their own methodology.  For investment services, “data officers” can reside in the trading group or in IT, if IT encompasses trading as well.  For companies who don’t need to analyze real-time data to make trading decisions, the data officer role should ideally reside in IT, to provide governance, process and provisioning of data so it is consistent throughout the organization.