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Foundation issues for the Chief Data Officer

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There are various definitions of what a CDO is and does but the Wikipedia definition is reasonably consensual. It states that “a chief data officer (CDO) is a corporate officer responsible for enterprise wide governance and utilisation of information as an asset, via data processing, analysis, data mining, information trading and other means”. It goes on to say that, “the Chief Data Officer has a significant measure of business responsibility for determining what kinds of information the enterprise will choose to capture, retain and exploit and for what purposes.” Not all organisations seem to understand the “chief” part of this definition. We know of some companies that have “upgraded” their data stewards into CDOs. No doubt the title change makes their staff feel better about themselves but Departmental Data Officer might be a more appropriate name in these circumstances. To be clear, we are discussing the role of CDO as a function that spans operational and departmental silos. This is important to appreciate because silos of data are part and parcel of the problems that CDOs have to face. In other words, the CDO really is a “chief”.

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