Chief Data Officer Survey and Research Results

New Research Substantiates the View that Data Is a Business’ Most Important Asset – with Chief Data Officers Playing a Crucial Role in Future–Proofing Business Strategies

Research undertaken by YouGov on behalf of analytics database provider Exasol finds that 72% of businesses worry that their inability to generate insights through the analysis of data will have a negative impact on financial performance. This is despite a similar number (77%) of respondents stating that data is now their organization’s most valuable asset.

The findings of the research, combined with additional desk research and the views from a number of industry commentators, are brought together in Exasol’s new eBook: From CDO to CEO: why your data expertise could make you a future business leader.

“After surveying the opinions of nearly 1,000 IT directors in the US, UK and Germany, it was clear that the effective use of data is essential not only for growth, but for survival,” explained Aaron Auld, CEO at Exasol. “And while people are very much still at the heart of every business, including at Exasol, it is also important to recognize that data has become a key asset. Yet, many organizations are still struggling with legacy data systems and have no clear data strategy in place. This is where the CDO role has come into its own, harnessing and demystifying data to inform business decisions, improve differentiation and foster financial growth within an organization.”

A CDO’s ability to
intrinsically understand the business and plan for its future will place these
individuals as ideal candidates for future CEOs. They understand every aspect
of the organization, meaning they can create a strategy and infrastructure that
allows every department to access the data insights they need to grow.

Businesses will
continue to struggle without a CDO at the helm enforcing a strategy, as it
becomes increasingly important for them to glean insights and value from their

Caroline Carruthers,
one of the UK’s first CDO’s, contributor to the whitepaper and co-author of “Data
Driven Business Transformation”, explains: “Currently, most businesses are
‘data hoarders’, wanting to get their hands on as much data as possible.
However, without people with the skills to understand how to process and use
that data, the questions needed to improve data use are not being asked within
the organization. The data is available, but those without experience in data
handling don’t know what they don’t know, so they can’t use it to its full

While the value of data professionals isn’t in doubt, the path from CDO to CEO won’t necessarily be a smooth one. Perspectives in the whitepaper from Mark Dexter, managing director of data-specialist recruiter KDR, and Peter Jackson, Director Group Data Sciences Legal & General, highlight the challenges and skills gaps that need to be overcome for CDOs to find their rightful strategic seat in the boardroom. But the potential is there. As Jackson says: “The C-suite is waking up to how much data can be held and how it can be used wisely.”

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