Capital One, the Federal Reserve, Google, New York City and the U.S. Army all have at least one thing in common: they each employ a chief data officer to oversee their big data programs.

The emergence of the Chief Data Officer closely mirrors a trend we saw in the 1980s when companies began to adopt personal computers, servers and digital technology en masse. At the time, some organizations realized that such a massive initiative required a combination of expertise and executive-level leadership. As a result, the chief information officer was born, and, by the 1990s, the CIO was ubiquitous on executive teams.

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