Sector News

Why do Chief Data Officers have such short tenures?

August 22, 2021
Borderless Future

Thirty years ago, a widely repeated joke was that CIO — the abbreviation for Chief Information Officer — really meant “career is over.” But as job tenures lengthened and the role became more institutionalized, the joke lost its relevance. Now, however, the most unstable C-suite job may be the Chief Data Officer, or CDO. Tenures are short, turnover is high, and as in the early days of the CIO role, many companies don’t seem to know exactly what they want from its incumbents.

But the CDO job doesn’t have to be so unstable. We believe there are ways that its value can be made more apparent, and for benefits to be delivered quickly enough to prolong job tenures. A clearer definition of the role and a focus on business rather than technology can also help. Conversations with the relatively few long-tenured CDOs have provided valuable insights for newer incumbents.

A Growing but Tenuous Role
The growth of the CDO role in large firms has surged in recent years. In the 2021 NewVantage Partners survey of large, data-intensive firms, 65% said they had a chief data officer in place. That’s rapid growth from 2002, when the role was first established by Capital One, and much higher than the 12% of firms with a CDO in the NewVantage 2012 survey. Financial services firms took the lead in naming CDOs, but now organizations in other industries with substantial data, including retail, healthcare, and even government, have appointed them.

In general, this trend reflects a recognition that data is an important business asset that is worthy of management by a senior executive. It’s also an acknowledgement that data and technology — the latter usually managed by a CIO or Chief Technology Officer — are not the same and need different management approaches. But that’s only part of the story.

Both the data and our experience suggest that the CDO role is a tenuous one. The average tenure, according to a Gartner survey and our own analysis, is between two and two-and-a-half years. Few CDOs have been in the role for more than three years. While most CDOs are championed upon their arrival, the honeymoon often ends sharply at about the 18-month period, when they are held accountable for achieving major transformational change — a quick timeline, given that data transformation is typically a multi-year process at a minimum for large, legacy organizations. READ MORE

by Tom Davenport, Randy Bean, and Josh King

Source: hbr.org

comments closed

Related News

September 25, 2022

Motivations for work are changing

Borderless Future

According to our survey, only 22% of workers globally rank compensation as the thing that matters most to them in a job. This isn’t to say that people will accept a job without fair pay: Compensation still ranks higher than all other job attributes. But it’s evident that a coin-operated view of workers, where firm leaders see employment as a purely financial transaction, underestimates the deeper human motivations for work.

September 17, 2022

The Future of Work now: Pharmacists and the robotic pharmacy at Stanford Health Care

Borderless Future

In November 2019 Stanford Health Care moved into a new hospital building. With seven stories and 824,000 square feet, the hospital required over a decade and two billion dollars to plan and construct. Most descriptions of the hospital focus on the airy private patient rooms or the state-of-the-art operating rooms, but one of the most technologically sophisticated aspects of the building is found in the basement.

September 11, 2022

Seven innovations for the C-Suite to accelerate sustainability

Borderless Future

Today, powerful forces are pushing sustainability innovation. Mounting political pressure on corporations, customer demands for climate-friendly products, and record levels of investment in climate tech all play a role. In Europe alone, the climate tech start-up ecosystem is now worth more than $100 billion, having doubled in just two years, according to Dealroom.