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29 January 2016
Responsible for the collection and use of data, the CDO is at the heart of the digital transformation of companies. An emerging role that is already much sought after.
According to a Forrester survey in August 2015, 45% of large companies around the world have recruited a Chief Data Officer and 16% intend to so within the year.
In France, data-driven companies such as La Poste, M6 or Havas Media have all recently acquired a ‘Mr Data’. As for the French government, it has appointed Henri Verdier as its Chief Data Officer.
Not to be confused with the Chief Digital Officer whose acronym they share, CDOs play a key role in the digital transformation of companies. Responsible for the collection, categorization, integration and use of data, they organise its flow between different internal entities as well as to partners, suppliers and clients.
An emerging role that does not yet have a dedicated training programme, CDOs come from various backgrounds. They may have been in charge of e-commerce, CRM, digital marketing or even IT systems.
Heading up a commando team made up of data specialists such as data scientists, but also experts in statistics or decision-making processes, the Chief Data Officers must instil a data culture throughout the company.
Providing a cross-cutting function, they are in constant liaison with all business areas, from HR to production. They need to understand the challenges of the business in order to design, construct or maintain products in a different manner, and to recruit and retain new clients or employees. All of this is done via the contribution of Big Data.
CDOs must not only optimise what exists but also design so-called “disruptive” models. This requires accurate, consistent and fresh data. CDOs will strive to ensure the correct governance of the company’s information heritage. In liaison with the legal or compliance department, they guarantee that personal data processing respects current legislation with regard to privacy laws.
CDOs must also lead a data-acquisition policy by negotiating with private institutions (file publishers) or public bodies (Météo France, Insee [the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies], etc.) while taking an interest in non-structured data, drawn in particular from social networks. Conversely, they can open up the company’s data to the ecosystem of developers and start-ups during a hackathon in order to create new services or products.
Like any data role, their profile is highly sought after. In its latest salary survey, recruitment agency Robert Half even talks of it as one of the most highly regarded digital roles, with a salary similar to that of a CIO, i.e. an annual salary of between €146k and €186k, increasing 3.3% year-on-year, for a senior profile with over fifteen years of experience.