What’s Behind the Rapid Rise of the Chief Data Officer?

An organization’s Chief Data Officer, or CDO, handles the big data of the business. Once an unknown title, the CDO has quickly risen in recognition alongside the massive datasets a CDO oversees. Now, according to Gartner estimations, 90 percent of large organizations will have a Chief Data Officer by 2019. What’s behind the shift, and what should you know about it?

The Job Description

I reached out to Sumit Nijhawan, CEO & President of the data solutions company Infogix, for a little more background on the CDO’s duties after receiving the company’s sheet of 2018 data trends, which highlighted the CDO’s rise. Here’s what he had to say in an email statement.

“Big data is no longer a trend, it is a vital part of everyday business and needs to be managed as such. Organizations need someone who can step in and maximize the value of data assets across an entire business enterprise and help align business and technology teams to create and maintain a data-driven culture. This is where a CDO comes into play.


Having a CDO in place has become more important than ever to navigate regulatory demands, successfully leverage data and manage enterprise-wide governance. Successfully managing any type of data, especially unstructured and unpredictable data, while simultaneously leveraging advanced analytics requires a CDO in today’s data-intensive environments.”

So what’s powering the rise of the Chief Data Officer? The growing important of the information assets that they manage.

The Big Data Race

While data has been around forever, the widespread acceptance of the computing power needed to process it hasn’t. Thanks to the rise of cloud computing, companies everyone can now outsource their big data crunching to third-party data companies. And that data needs executive oversight.

The Chief Data Officer’s rise can be pinpointed to the early years of the 2010s: The “large organizations” cited in that Gartner survey saw 1,000 CDOs in 2015, up from 400 in 2014. By now, the CDO has cemented their importance: Big data has a chunk of the C-suite pie, and it isn’t going anywhere.

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Written by:
Adam is a writer at Tech.co and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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