The role of chief data officer (CDO) should be based on four key areas with data at their core, according to Gartner.
The analyst house said that the number of CDOs in UK companies rose from 400 to 1,000 between 2014 and 2015, underlining the growing shift to digital technologies having C-suite importance.
However, Gartner research vice president Mario Faria explained that many CDO roles, and those given the job, lack clear structure given their newness.
"Most CDOs are new to the role and often have little experience of managing large teams or designing and changing organisational structures,” he said.
But Gartner insisted that the use of data should be put at the heart of a new CDO role. "The organisational design of the office of the CDO must clearly take account of the role that data is expected to play in the organisation," he said.
With this in mind Gartner has identified four key ways in which a CDO should form their role:
1. CDO organisation as an engine room
This focuses on the idea that the CDO oversees the use of data assets, information management and analytics to ensure that internal users have the best possible information for ongoing operations, such as sales and marketing.
2. Everyone's CDO organisation
This is based on the idea that data should also be fed to business leaders so that they can look beyond current business models and create new digital business for revenue generation.
3. CDO organisation as a business service provider
This relates to the idea that the CDO must also ensure that data is correctly shared with any external partners to enhance operations.
4. CDO organisation is the business
This is the idea that the data an organisation can generate and use externally should be considered a product in itself, alongside any physical goods or services.
"Information is one of the explicit external offerings of the organisation or is inseparable from the product line," Gartner said.
Faria added that these four focus areas should not be taken as gospel, but as a rough template around which to design any new CDO role.
"There's no one correct way to design a CDO office. Its structure and strength depend on how it is used by the evolving organisation," he explained.
Gartner also created a diagram showing the structure of these four elements and how they overlap.
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