Gartner: This one career path could be the most gender diverse role in tech

Professionals in this tech role are a linchpin of digital business transformation, according to Gartner.

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Chief data officers (CDOs) are driving digital business transformation in many organizations, with increasing revenue a top measure of success for more than a third of these professionals, according to a new report from Gartner.

The third annual Gartner Chief Data Officer survey included responses from 287 CDOs, chief analytics officers, and other high-level data and analytics leaders from organizations across the globe.

"While the early crop of CDOs was focused on data governance, data quality and regulatory drivers, today's CDOs are now also delivering tangible business value, and enabling a data-driven culture," Valerie Logan, research director at Gartner, said in a press release.

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More than half of CDOs report directly to a top business leader, such as the CEO, COO, CFO, president, or board, the report found. "By 2021, the office of the CDO will be seen as a mission-critical function comparable to IT, business operations, HR and finance in 75 percent of large enterprises," Logan said in the release.

Some 57% of respondents reported holding the formal title of CDO--up from 50% in 2016. Organizations are increasingly creating an Office of the CDO as well, with 47% of respondents implementing a formal or informal Office of the CDO this year, compared with just 23% last year.

This year, 4,000 CDOs were employed in large organizations worldwide--an increase from 1,000 in 2015 and just 400 in 2014, according to previous Gartner research. By 2019, 90% of large global companies will have an appointed CDO, Gartner predicts.

"The steady maturation of the office of the CDO underlines the acceptance and broader understanding of the role and recognizes the impact and value CDOs worldwide are providing," Michael Moran, research director at Gartner, said in the release. "The addition of new talent for increasing responsibilities, growing budgets and increasing positive engagement across the C-suite illustrate how central the role of CDO is becoming to more and more organizations."

Budgets are also on the rise for the CDO, the report found: Respondents reported an average CDO office budget of $8 million this year--a 23% increase from the average of $6.5 million reported in 2016.

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The CDO's responsibilities span data management, analytics, data science, ethics, profit and loss ownership, and digital transformation, Gartner found. "This increased level of reported responsibility by CDOs reflects the growing importance and pervasive nature of data and analytics across organizations, and the maturity of the CDO role and function," Logan said in the release.

CDOs are also a key change agent in data-driven digital transformation efforts, the report stated. Some 71% of CDOs are acting as a thought leader on emerging digital models, and are helping create their organization's digital business vision. Meanwhile, 60% said they are assessing external opportunities for, and threats to, business strategy, and 77% are developing new data and analytics solutions to make their companies more competitive.

SEE: IT jobs in 2020: A leader's guide (ZDNet/TechRepublic special report)

CDOs are also a diverse group: By 2021, the CDO role will be the most gender diverse of all technology-affiliated C-level positions, Gartner predicts. This year, 19% of CDOs included in the survey were female, with this proportion rising to 25% in organizations with worldwide revenue of more than $1 billion. In contrast, just 13% of CIOs are women, according to Gartner. In terms of age, 29% of those surveyed said they were age 40 or younger.

While their roles and budgets have expanded in the past year, CDOs still face a number of challenges within the enterprise. Their top roadblock to success is "culture challenges to accept change," according to the survey, followed by "poor data literacy."

Want to use this data in your next business presentation? Feel free to copy and paste these top takeaways into your next slideshow.

  • 47% of companies implemented a formal or informal Office of the CDO in 2017, compared with just 23% in 2016. -Gartner, 2017
  • CDOs reported an average CDO office budget of $8 million this year--a 23% increase from the average of $6.5 million reported in 2016. -Gartner, 2017
  • By 2021, the CDO role will be the most gender diverse of all technology-affiliated C-level positions. -Gartner, 2017
Image: iStockphoto/gorodenkoff

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