Why Do Chief Data Officers Have Such Short Tenures?

Thirty years in the past, a broadly repeated joke was that CIO — the abbreviation for Chief Data Officer — actually meant “profession is over.” However as job tenures lengthened and the function turned extra institutionalized, the joke misplaced its relevance. Now, nevertheless, probably the most unstable C-suite job will be the Chief Information Officer, or CDO. Tenures are quick, turnover is excessive, and as within the early days of the CIO function, many corporations don’t appear to know precisely what they need from its incumbents.

However the CDO job doesn’t need to be so unstable. We imagine there are methods that its worth may be made extra obvious, and for advantages to be delivered shortly sufficient to extend job tenures. A clearer definition of the function and a concentrate on enterprise slightly than know-how may assist. Conversations with the comparatively few long-tenured CDOs have supplied worthwhile insights for newer incumbents.

A Rising however Tenuous Function

The expansion of the CDO function in massive companies has surged lately. Within the 2021 NewVantage Partners survey of enormous, data-intensive companies, 65% mentioned that they had a chief knowledge officer in place. That’s fast development from 2002, when the function was first established by Capital One, and far greater than the 12% of companies with a CDO within the NewVantage 2012 survey. Monetary providers companies took the lead in naming CDOs, however now organizations in different industries with substantial knowledge, together with retail, healthcare, and even authorities, have appointed them.

Normally, this development displays a recognition that knowledge is a vital enterprise asset that’s worthy of administration by a senior govt. It’s additionally an acknowledgement that knowledge and know-how — the latter often managed by a CIO or Chief Expertise Officer — should not the identical and wish totally different administration approaches. However that’s solely a part of the story.

Each the info and our expertise counsel that the CDO function is a tenuous one. The common tenure, in keeping with a Gartner survey and our personal evaluation, is between two and two-and-a-half years. Few CDOs have been within the function for greater than three years. Whereas most CDOs are championed upon their arrival, the honeymoon typically ends sharply at in regards to the 18-month interval, when they’re held accountable for reaching main transformational change — a fast timeline, on condition that knowledge transformation is often a multi-year course of at a minimal for big, legacy organizations.

Even in monetary providers, the place the function is extra widespread, there’s excessive turnover within the CDO job. Over the previous two years, for instance, there have been CDO departures (and a few new hires) at JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, American Express, AIG, Vacationers, Nationwide, Charles Schwab, USAA, TD Financial institution, Financial institution of Montreal,  MetLife, BNY Mellon, Freddie Mac, Prudential, TIAA, and Truist. As a result of they’re in excessive demand, even CDOs who’ve left an organization can often get one other job shortly. However most will encounter the identical mixture of excessive expectations and low skill to ship worth shortly at their subsequent positions.

On prime of all that, the CDO job is being pruned again as different new roles are created. In most organizations, the CDO job initially included knowledge safety. Now, nevertheless, Chief Data Safety Officers attend to that situation in lots of companies. CDOs as soon as owned knowledge privateness, however some Chief Privateness Officers have taken it over. Some CDOs additionally owned the operate of constructing sense of information with analytics and AI, however Chief Analytics Officer is now additionally a well-established function — although some companies have correctly, as we are going to argue, mixed it with the CDO job as Chief Information and Analytics Officer (CDAO).

One may think that these are simply teething pains for CDOs, and that with larger familiarity the function will stabilize. Nonetheless, we’d argue that there are some inherent issues in what number of organizations and incumbent CDOs have outlined and centered the obligations of the job.

What’s the Downside?

Why is the CDO job so problematic? There are a lot of causes, sadly, however crucial one is likely to be that the job is usually poorly outlined. Many organizations expect too much of their CDOs and have unclear priorities for them. They will’t create the perfect knowledge setting inside their corporations, as a result of legacy corporations have legacy methods and knowledge environments, and large-scale change in them may be very costly. Few corporations have the urge for food to throw them away and begin from scratch. And that is all at a time when the quantity of information will increase enormously every year, and new applied sciences for managing it seem virtually day by day.

CDOs themselves may additionally discover it troublesome to promote their achievements to enterprise audiences. Even when there are enhancements in knowledge, they’re typically comparatively invisible to inside customers, and really troublesome to measure in enterprise phrases. And whereas CDOs might have knowledge experience, they usually lack C-suite expertise and organizational management abilities on the senior govt stage. Their C-suite compensation ranges plus their lack of C-suite historical past and lack of well-developed C-suite political savvy typically makes them targets from day one.

Along with enhancing the info setting, many organizations right now are interested by altering the cultures of their companies in a extra data-driven route. Some CDOs we all know, like Vipin Gopal at Eli Lilly and Mano Manoochar at Vacationers, are main cultural change initiatives for his or her companies. However others, with largely technical backgrounds, might discover it difficult to undertake cultural change. One CDO advised us, “I really feel I’m failing in my job as a result of I’m anticipated to hold out cultural change in addition to implement a sequence of necessary technical adjustments. I’m not skilled in change administration and discover the cultural change very troublesome to attain.” In any case, our surveys have proven little to no enchancment over the previous decade within the proportion of corporations whose knowledge executives say they’re data-driven. Maybe taking a look at CDOs and their corporations which are data-driven can make clear the best way to make the function and the aim extra possible.

Studying from a Lengthy-Tenured CDO

The following 5-10 years ought to see larger C-suite acceptance of the CDO function, and enormous corporations ought to anticipate the function to proceed to evolve by way of anticipated ability units (extra enterprise data and experience) and organizational mandate. Nonetheless, CDOs eager to survive within the shorter run would possibly take into account a few of the recommendation beneath from Man Peri, Chief Information and Analytics Officer at Procter & Gamble. He’s been in that job for over six years, was head of analytics for a number of extra earlier than that, and has been at P&G for nearly 25 years. We’d argue that one approach to protect your job as CDO is to have it embody analytics and AI (as Peri’s does), since it’s a lot simpler to exhibit worth in these areas than in knowledge administration.

After we requested Peri how CDOs and CDAOs can enhance the appreciation for what they do, he supplied a number of concepts:

  • Begin with a transparent connection to enterprise technique with tangible examples of how knowledge analytics can drive enterprise outcomes (topline, backside line, money, stewardship).
  • Lead with 1-2 ahead considering enterprise companions to exhibit what is feasible. These companions develop into the change brokers throughout the group.

Peri argues, and we agree, that knowledge methods have to be tied to — and advance — enterprise unit methods and objectives. As soon as the objectives are agreed upon, the CDO will help to construct knowledge belongings, administration approaches for them, and administration abilities to make sure that the unit can obtain the objectives. An end result of that course of is a knowledge platform to ingest, rework, and harmonize knowledge to serve enterprise unit prioritized use circumstances, and a democratized knowledge setting utilizing knowledge providers and enterprise intelligence toolsets. P&G had such a platform and toolsets as early as 2013, as described in a Harvard Enterprise College case study.

On the analytics facet, Peri mentioned that after constructing pilot initiatives, CDAOs ought to set up scalable and sustainable data /analytics products to speed up time to worth for enterprise models. In our view, such merchandise are key to displaying worth from knowledge belongings and analytical capabilities. As a way to construct these merchandise, Peri has additionally tried to draw and retain one of the best skills throughout knowledge science, AI engineering, and knowledge administration. He tries to make sure they’re engaged on the largest challenges, have entry to the newest instruments and applied sciences to train their craft, and that they really feel valued and half of a bigger group of information/analytic professionals.

We concur that these are good methods for achievement as a CD(A)O. Choosing just a few high-value use circumstances for analytics and AI, and partnering with enterprise leaders to know their knowledge and analytics wants and choose and obtain initiatives, is especially essential. Lengthy tenures within the job can solely be achieved by balancing fast wins with and for enterprise companions, whereas enterprise longer-term knowledge and analytics mandates and setting practical expectations for a way shortly they are often achieved.

Enterprise data, management and affect, communication, and group change administration abilities are desk stakes for todays’ CD(A)O. With out these abilities the CDO function will get relegated to “again workplace” actions, very like conventional CIOs who focus solely on knowledge heart, infrastructure, and enterprise utility deployments. We imagine that future CIO, Chief Digital Officers, and even CEOs can be sourced from enterprise savvy CDAOs. When executives ask Peri to explain his function he merely responds, “I’m a enterprise chief who brings deep digital, knowledge, and analytics experience to assist rework and develop our enterprise.” When the info administration and structure element is main and the enterprise goals secondary, that’s when CDOs wrestle.

https://hbr.org/2021/08/why-do-chief-data-officers-have-such-short-tenures?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feedpercent3A+harvardbusiness+%28HBR.orgpercent29 | Why Do Chief Information Officers Have Such Brief Tenures?


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