The Chief Data Officer -
The Third Musketeer of the Digital Age

White Papers | February, 2016

By Asia Pacific

The digital paradigm is delivering an insurmountable amount of data that organisations are able to exploit to define new customer experiences and drive business growth. For companies to realise the full value of this corporate asset, there needs to be executive ownership and direction in the boardroom.

The digital disruption and trends such as mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) are converging to create an always connected and switched-on world. This new playing field is enabling a consumer journey that is no longer confined to the online or offline world, but defining one that shifts seamlessly  across these two paradigms. 

For organisations, this provides an explosion of data that can be utilised to drive new revenue streams and uncover innovative market opportunities. Within this landscape, the role of the CDO is increasingly being recognised as a critical position within an organisation’s executive boardroom. Sitting at the crosssection of the traditional CMO and CIO roles, the CDO is instrumental in guiding the utilisation of data as a corporate asset to enhance the customer experience and forge new frontiers, pushing beyond the traditional view of technology as a cost lever. 

With vast opportunities for growth and cost optimisation, organisations operating in the digital world, from telecommunications and banking to e-commerce, will increasingly see a clear path being paved for the rise of the third musketeer, the CDO.



The global advanced analytics market is forecast to grow to $29.53 billion in 2019 at a CAGR of 33.2%1. 

With more than 40 zettabytes of data expected  to be generated by 2020, organizations today are faced with an explosion of both structured and unstructured data.

The value of big data and analytics is being increasingly recognized, with 89% of business leaders drawing comparisons between the revolutionary powers of big data to transform businesses, to that of the Internet. 

Yet, while organizations may have access to  increasingly enriched data, both in volume, variety and velocity, this data needs to be exploited to unlock its transformational value. 

To drive meaningful insights that are actionable, organizations need to establish ownership for data as a strategic corporate asset. This ensures that there is a clearly defined data strategy that aligns to the organization’s broader vision and business objectives.

2.JPGFurthermore, business enablers such as data management, data quality and data governance are established across the organization. It is within the constructs of these elements that data is able to be transformed from information to knowledge that can drive business decisions based on timely and relevant insights. To ensure that the right infrastructure and vision is in place, however, there needs to be buy-in and direction to guide the management of data at the executive level.


The digital disruption is evolving the role of the CMO and CIO, creating an inexplicable link between technology and business. Having been focused on driving branding and  promotional activities through traditional channels, the CMO is now faced with an abundance of marketing channels, technologies and solutions that enable them to better understand and engage with customers than ever before.

3.JPGWith access to an abundance of data, CMOs need to harness this information and create customer intimacy across key touch points to enhance acquisition and retention efforts. However, transforming data into actionable insights falls outside the remit of the CMO. Their priority being the application of these insights to drive marketing and campaign efforts that will grow the business’s customer base.

4.JPGSimilarly, continual advancements in technology are shifting the role of CIOs. Historically considered to be the lead of a back office function and cost center, CIOs are sitting at the helm of the boardroom. With technology becoming the primary driving force, defining and continually evolving the customer experience, CIOs are now also responsible for the company’s growth agenda. Positioned at the forefront of strategy, the decisions made by the CIO need to be driven and focused on the end customer and their changing needs, behaviors and expectations.

Amidst the shifting landscape of the role of the CMO and CIO, is an emerging need for
executive ownership of data. As a strategic asset, data needs to be managed and owned
across the organization. Both CMOs and CIOs do not have the requisite knowledge to guide
decisions surrounding data and are unable to push forward an agenda that cuts across the
enterprise, beyond their individual silos.

Without such ownership and expertise at an enterprise wide level, the full value potential of
transforming data into actionable insights that drive business value is immediately compromised. By appointing a CDO, organisations create a point of accountability and ownership for one of the company’s most strategically valuable assets. CDOs will be responsible for establishing the organisation’s data strategy, the required governance structures, policies and guidelines to ensure data quality and management as well as the use of new and existing data and information assets.

It is forecast that 50% of all organisations in  regulated industries will have appointed CDOs by 2017 .


As new technologies emerge to create and define new digital experiences, the volume, variety and velocity of available data will continue to multiply. More data means more opportunities for organisations to better understand their customers and identify new opportunities for business growth. To enable the arrival of the new CMO and CIO roles and a company’s growth agenda in a digital world, businesses need to appoint a CDO. Responsible for data management and exploitation, the CDO is the missing musketeer in the executive boardroom with the ability, authority and knowledge to transform enterprise data into valuable insights and drive tangible outcomes.