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CDOs: Increasingly Present and Highly Effective

The Chief Data Officer (CDO) is the senior executive leader responsible for all flows and functions of data in an organization. Despite potentially not having this exact title or senior-executive status, this person is the highest-level employee responsible for overseeing data in an organization.

Our research shows that the business intelligence (BI) and data leadership role of a CDO materially benefits organizations. CDOs are increasingly present, highly effective, and their presence and tenure correlate strongly with higher rates of BI success, more data-driven decision making, and increased rates of data literacy.

Executive Summary

In 2020, respondents report 26 percent more CDOs in place than in 2019. Furthermore, in 2020, almost 20 percent of organizations now have CDOs.

CDOs tend to do a stellar job. Respondents indicate 85 percent of CDOs are somewhat effective or extremely effective in their roles. In addition, 33 percent of organizations report having an extremely effective CDO.

Larger organizations have the most CDOs in place, with more than 35 percent of the largest organizations reporting the presence of a CDO. Respondents report CDOs of all tenures in place in all sizes of organizations, which indicates achievement and success in CDO presence.

Although our research indicates that BI success correlates most highly with the presence of a CDO, tenure in the role represents a second critical factor contributing to BI success.

Organizations with the longest-tenured CDOs (that is, three or more years) report the highest rates of most or all data-driven decisions. Organizations with CDOs that have more than five years’ tenure report significantly greater levels of data-driven decision-making most or all of the time.

Although most organizations with extremely high rates of data literacy do not have CDOs, CDO presence and longer CDO tenure both correlate strongly with higher reported rates of data literacy.

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