The question of whether organisations still need a chief information officer (CIO) after recruiting a chief data officer (CDO) depends on the firm's culture, and the qualities of the individuals in the roles.
Darren Price, CIO of insurance group RSA, told V3 that the CDO role is still evolving, and that digital transformations can be driven only by certain types of CIO.
"There's the new state-of-the-art CIO who's a commercial leader first, and the CDO is heading that way too. A commercially driven, business-focused CIO will naturally understand how to deliver digital, but a technical, back-office-focused CIO who runs a factory won't be able to fill that role," he said.
Price added that certain types of CDO will also be well equipped to perform the CIO role in some organisations.
"There will be certain CDOs with the skills to do CIO roles. FTSE 100 businesses look for CIOs who want to be part of the executive committee. For these businesses IT transformation is a part of business transformation, so you need CIOs who are business leaders with commercial acumen," he argued.
"Could a CDO run IT and perform that role as well? Absolutely. It's about the quality of leadership, skills and experience of the individual."
Price has spent several months recruiting a new group CDO and is in a good position to assess the marketplace. One revelation he has uncovered is that today's CDOs are extremely reluctant to report to a CIO as they want a spot on the board alongside them, rather than sitting functionally beneath them.
"CDOs don't want to report to CIOs. The most consistent statement from the interview process is that CDOs shouldn't report to the CIO. They asked if a CIO can really influence the digital business agenda," said Price.
Price added that he wants to be more commercially focused, explaining that there should be a matrix of joint responsibility and accountability between the two roles.
"The CDO should be aligned to the P&L [profit and loss] owner, where they jointly develop business propositions to deliver solutions to customers," he explained.
A report from recruitment firm Harvey Nash earlier this year found that most CDOs get their way and are twice as likely to report to CEOs than CIOs.
"There's no short-term existential threat to CIOs. What's becoming a real priority is the digitisation of business; the way you do business with customers. And that's a real opportunity for CIOs and CDOs," Price concluded.
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