Gartner Finds 72% of CDOs Heavily Involved in Digital Transformation Initiatives

May 14, 2021

Seventy-two percent of data and analytics (D&A) leaders with digital initiatives are either leading or heavily involved in their organization’s digital transformation initiatives, according to Gartner.’s sixth annual Chief Data Officer (CDO) survey.

“The results indicate that more organizations now understand the synergy between building a data-driven business and leading digital transformation,” said Debra Logan, distinguished research vice president at Gartner. “D&A strategy is a business strategy infused with D&A thinking; it has a primary role in digital business strategy, affecting everything the organization does.”

Gartner analysts presented these findings during the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit 2021, which is taking place virtually in the Americas through Thursday.

While only 24% of respondents said they are leading digital transformation efforts, the boundaries between CDOs and chief digital officers are becoming more and more blurred. CDOs are increasingly being asked to take on more strategic objectives and lead digital transformation initiatives as digital business itself transforms to business as usual (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Percentage of Data & Analytics Leaders Involved in Digital Transformation Initiatives

Source: Gartner (May 2021)

Prioritize Business-Facing KPIs to Enhance Influence and Impact

While data quality (51%), ROI from D&A investments (44%) and data sharing (43%) are D&A leaders’ top objectives, their role will not be seen as valuable unless they focus on stakeholders’ KPIs.

“It’s not enough to manage data and create insights,” said Ms. Logan. “These activities must deliver measurable business outcomes.

“Data sharing is the way to optimize higher quality data and more robust data and analytics to solve business challenges and goals,” said Ms. Logan. “Data sharing is an important KPI and a business necessity. It accelerates digital business transformation.”

David Friedland, the VP of Business Development at IRI added, "Deb Logan's point about data sharing leading to better analytic outcomes -- whether as part of digital transformation (monetization) or traditional decision support efforts -- tracks with the experience of IRI customers using the Voracity platform for production analytics, governance, or both. While the key to superior insight lies in being able to rapidly process and present wider varieties and higher volumes of data, cleansing and masking that data (as it's being wrangled, analyzed, and visualized) is just as vital. Those promoting data sharing must thus ensure the quality and security of that data for analytic processes to remain reliable and compliant."

Gartner predicts that by 2023, organizations that promote data sharing will outperform their peers on most business value metrics.

Successful CDOs Translate Data Into Business Results

CDOs who have business-facing KPIs and multiple business partners are 1.7 times more likely to be effective at consistently producing clear business value by successfully demonstrating ROI from the D&A investments. They are also 2.3 times more likely to be effective at reducing time to market and 3.5 times more likely to be effective at data monetization.

Less successful CDOs are those who failed to show a link between D&A and business value and who are inclined to focus on technology instead of people.

In addition, 93% of CDOs reported that effective communication is critical to the success of their roles. Overall, the most important competencies for D&A leaders are influencing, engagement and effective communication plans. These are leadership – not management – skills. “If the CDO does not exert influence across the organization by promoting data sharing, engaging stakeholders and training the workforce to become data literate, they will likely not perform well in their role,” said Ms. Logan.

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