Gartner Survey Finds Chief Data Officers Are Delivering Business Impact and Enabling Digital Transformation

By 2021, the CDO Role Will Be the Most Gender Diverse of All
Technology-Affiliated C-level Positions

STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As the role of chief data officer (CDO) continues to gain traction
within organizations, a recent survey by Gartner, Inc. found that these
data and analytics leaders are proving to be a linchpin of digital
business transformation.

The third annual Gartner
Chief Data Officer survey
was conducted July through September 2017
with 287 CDOs, chief analytics officers and other high-level data and
analytics leaders from across the world. Respondents were required to
have the title of CDO, chief analytics officer or be a senior leader
with responsibility for leading data and/or analytics in their

“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,” said Valerie
, research director at Gartner. “Aligned with this shift in
focus, the survey also showed that for the first time, more than half of
CDOs now report directly to a top business leader such as the CEO, COO,
CFO, president/owner or board/shareholders. 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.”

The survey found that support for the CDO role and business function is
rising globally. A majority of survey respondents reported holding the
formal title of CDO, revealing a steady increase over 2016 (57 percent
in 2017 compared with 50 percent in 2016). Those organizations
implementing an Office
of the CDO
also rose since last year, with 47 percent reporting an
Office of the CDO implemented (either formally or informally) in 2017,
compared with 23 percent fully implemented in 2016.

“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,” said Michael
, research director at Gartner. “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. Respondents to the 2017 survey report an
average CDO office budget of $8 million, representing a 23 percent
increase from the average of $6.5 million reported in 2016. Fifteen
percent of respondents report budgets more than $20 million, contrasting
with 7 percent last year. A further indicator of maturity is the size of
the office of the CDO organization. Last year’s study reported total
full time employees at an average of 38 (not distinguishing between
direct and indirect reporting), while this year reports an average of 54
direct and indirect employees, representing the federated nature of the
office of the CDO design.

CDOs shift from defense to offense to drive digital transformation

With more than one-third of respondents saying “increase revenue” is a
top three measure of success, the survey findings show a clear bias
developing in favor of value creation over risk mitigation as the key
measure of success for a CDO. The survey also looked at how CDOs
allocate their time. On a mean basis, 45 percent of the CDO’s time is
allocated to value creation and/or revenue generation, 28 percent to
cost savings and efficiency, and 27 percent to risk mitigation.

“CDOs and any data and analytics leader must take responsibility to put
data governance and analytics principles on the digital agenda. They
have the right and obligation to do it,” said Mario
, managing vice president at Gartner.

CDOs are responsible for more than just data governance

According to the survey, in 2017, CDOs are not just focused on data as
the title may imply. Their responsibilities span data management,
analytics, data science, ethics and digital transformation. A larger
than expected percentage of respondents (36 percent) also report
responsibility for profit and loss (P&L) ownership. “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,” said Ms. Logan.

In the 2017 survey, 86 percent of respondents ranked “defining data
and analytics strategy for the organization”
as their top
responsibility, up from 64 percent in 2016. This reflects a need for
creating or modernizing data and analytics strategies within an
increasing dependence on data and insights within a digital business

CDOs are becoming impactful change agents leading the data-driven

The survey results provided insight into the kind of activities CDOs are
taking on in order to drive change in their organizations. Several areas
seem to have a notable increase in CDO responsibilities compared with
last year:

  • Serving as a digital advisor: 71 percent of respondents are
    acting as a thought leader on emerging digital models, and helping to
    create the digital business vision for the enterprise.
  • Providing an external pulse and liaison: 60 percent of
    respondents are assessing external opportunities and threats as input
    to business strategy, and 75 percent of respondents are building and
    maintaining external relationships across the organization’s ecosystem.
  • Exploiting data for competitive edge: 77 percent of respondents
    are developing new data and analytics solutions to compete in new ways.

CDOs are diverse and tackling a wide array of internal challenges

Gartner predicts that by 2021, the CDO role will be the most
gender diverse of all technology-affiliated C-level positions and the
survey results reflect that position. Of the respondents to Gartner’s
2017 CDO survey who provided their gender, 19 percent were female and
this proportion is even higher within large organizations — 25 percent
in organizations with worldwide revenue of more than $1 billion. This
contrasts with 13 percent of CIOs who are women, per the 2018
Gartner CIO Agenda Survey
. When it comes to average age of CDOs, 29
percent of respondents said they were 40 or younger.

The survey respondents reported that there is no shortage of internal
roadblocks challenging CDOs. The top internal roadblock to the success
of the Office of the CDO is “culture challenges to accept change”
— a top three challenge for 40 percent of respondents in 2017. A new
roadblock, “poor data literacy,” debuted as the second
biggest challenge (35 percent), suggesting that a top CDO priority is
ensuring commonality of shared language and fluency with data, analytics
and business outcomes across a wide range of organizational roles. When
asked about engagement with other C-level executives, respondents ranked
the relationship with the CIO and CTO as the strongest, followed by a
broad, healthy degree of positive engagement across the C-Suite.

Gartner clients can read more in the report “Survey
Analysis: Third Gartner CDO Survey — How Chief Data Officers Are Driving
Business Impact.”

Gartner analysts will provide additional analysis on data and analytics
leadership trends at the Gartner Data & Analytics Summits 2018, taking
place in Sydney,
, London,
Paulo, Brazil
, Mumbai,
, and Tokyo.
Follow news and updates from the events on Twitter using #GartnerDA.

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading research and advisory
company. The company helps business leaders across all major functions
in every industry and enterprise size with the objective insights they
need to make the right decisions. Gartner’s comprehensive suite of
services delivers strategic advice and proven best practices to help
clients succeed in their mission-critical priorities. Gartner is
headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, USA, and has more than 15,000
associates serving clients in 11,000 enterprises in 100 countries. For
more information, visit


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