A majority of large organizations (90%) will have a chief data officer (CDO) by 2019, according to a recent report by Gartner Inc. Helping to push this trend is the race to drive competitive advantage and improved efficiency through better use of information assets.

"Business leaders are starting to grasp the huge potential of digital business, and demanding a better return on their organizations' information assets and use of analytics," Mario Faria, research vice president at Gartner, says.

"It's a logical step to create an executive position—the CDO—to handle the many opportunities and responsibilities that arise from industrial-scale collection and harnessing of data," Faria adds.

CDOs will face challenges to the extent that only half will be successful by the end of 2019, the firm notes.

One challenge is that the role will be new in most organizations, and most new CDOs will be learning on the job. They will face the daunting task of building an information strategy with relevant metrics that tie the activities of their team to measurable business outcomes, the report says.

"With the explosion of datasets everywhere, an important task is determining which information can add business value, drive efficiency or improve risk management," Faria says. "The CDO's role will raise expectations of better results from an enterprise information management strategy, with stakeholders wanting a clear idea of the exact mechanics of making success a reality."

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