3 min

After Chief Digital Officer, now introducing Chief Data Officer! [by Alexandra Droullé, Partner Eurosearch & associates, consulting in resource management]

August 04, 2015

After implementing the role of Chief Digital Officer to drive the digital transformation in companies, now comes a new position: Chief Data Officer in charge of exploiting the unprecedented mass amounts of data from big data…

Companies from all sectors are closely monitoring the eruption of pure digital players competing in their market. Significant market share has been stolen by new entrants such as Uber or Booking.com who have both been able to meet the needs of a more demanding consumer and adapt to new digital uses. Today, more than ever before we must place the customer at the center of business strategies, review the customer experience and eliminate unsuccessful tactics.

According to a study by Accenture in 15 countries, 80% of large companies are now equipped with a Chief Digital Officer. His role greatly varies from one company to another. He reports to senior management, sometimes with additional responsibilities to marketing or the IT department.

His academic and professional experience is also diverse: before having been hired to Chief Digital Officer he may have been CRM/customer relations manager, innovation manager, in charge of e-commerce or communication/internet marketing, or CIO. He may have even started his own company. Above all, he is passionate about new technologies and has been interested in the web since its creation.

His role? Defining the digital agenda by identifying project priorities and key indicators to be put in place. The Chief Digital Officer is pilot to several projects with the CIO, marketing department and HR. He can be in charge of the companies’ e-commerce, deployment of different offers and services on mobile media, the animation of social networks, the acquisition and gaining the loyalty of customers, digitizing the point of sale, product innovation, and new market research such as that of connected objects…

It’s the Chief Digital Officer who convinces the Executive Committee and the greater part of the company for business projects. Assisted by Human Resources, he develops the use of the intranet and mobile tools, creating a digital factory which centralizes all digital projects and developing internal training which develops the evolution of a company.

He, therefore, influences several other roles (HR, communications, marketing, distribution, research), those who are not always in favor of this new leader infringing on some of their responsibilities. It’s up to him to establish a position as a reassuring leader and powerful engine for change.

His mission is, however, more than likely to disappear once the digital transformation is accomplished by an organization.

Some companies have made the transformation quick: they have successfully launched e-commerce, increased share purchases online, developed loyalty programs and acquired a large customer base that keeps growing. Yet in parallel, the amount of external data from the Internet has increased by the masses and has become more complex and sophisticated. To operate effectively, these companies have created platforms (Data Management Platform) as well as hired data scientists. They are responsible for the collection, organization and analysis of big data.

In this context, the role of a Chief Data Officer has become relevant. New to marketing, information systems and statistics, he is often attached the Marketing and Strategy Department. His mission is to collect reliable data, centralize, store, secure and transmit this information to the appropriate teams at the appropriate times. He must be particularly knowledgeable in data security and trust because of the number of providers hosting and processing the data.

He leads a team that brings together expertise in business intelligence, statistics, computer science, finance, marketing, business operations, etc. The Chief Data Officer has good managerial experience allowing him to combine both technical and business skills on the job. He more than likely has come from a consulting position, IT, research or marketing.

His role will become more important in the years to come as data has become a major asset to companies as well as a monetary commodity. Data uses are varied; for one, they act as a tool in the decision making process for executives. Data also helps to personalize offers and customer contact points and make effective use of the CRM.

If, contrary to Accor, Boulanger, BNP Paribas, Havas, Ipsos, Le Figaro, Orange, Score, Toyota, Voyages-SNCF or the General Secretary for the Modernization of Public Action, your company has not yet taken on a Chief Data Officer, it may be time to take the leap…

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