What Does A Chief Data Officer (CDO) Do?


Over the last decade, the concept of information and its importance have had a profound impact on the social, economic and business landscape of the world. Today, there is a large amount of information available to companies and for this reason, new professional profiles have emerged, such as the Chief Data Officer (CDO). What does the CDO do?

Job Profile

Currently, the amount of information available to companies and corporations is growing exponentially, largely thanks to the proliferation of Cloud technologies, as well as interconnected devices both in offices and in private homes.

In order to adapt to this environment, modern companies require personnel capable of understanding, processing and managing information and algorithms intelligently and efficiently. Most businesses have a hard time doing this, especially with the advent of AI-powered applications.

In the midst of this environment, companies have a growing need to maximise the commercial and operational potential of information. For this and other reasons, a new professional profile arises: The Chief Data Officer, also known as CDO.

Role Overview - Chief Data Officer
Role Overview – Chief Data Officer

A CDO is in charge of analysing, evaluating, classifying and converting data for companies to implement into their business and management strategies. A chief data officer typically occupies a middle executive position among C-level executives.

Depending on the company and the region, a CDO may report directly to the CEO, but it is also common for them to report to the COO (Chief Operating Officer) or CFO (Chief Financial Officer). In some companies, they even report to IT executives such as the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) or CIO (Chief Information Officer).

If we analyse the 2021 Heidrick and Struggles study, there are clear differences between Europe and the US. For example, while most data executives report to the CEO in Europe, in the US most report to the CTO.

Responsibilities of a Chief Data Officer

A Chief Data Officer (CDO) fulfils a wide range of activities, including managing information and guaranteeing the quality of the data to create an effective strategy. 

A CDO also manages data analysis – which consists of drawing conclusions through the collection, organisation and transformation of information, to improve business processes, decision making and business results.

In addition, for this position, it is necessary to have expertise in the area of ​​Strategic Management – a concept that involves planning, monitoring and evaluating all the necessary tactics for the business to meet its goals.

Responsibilities of a Chief Data Officer
Responsibilities of a Chief Data Officer

A CDO is also responsible for Business Intelligence which consists of transforming the information acquired into feasible action plans that will guide the company’s strategic decisions. This involves digging into various data sets and presenting analytical findings in the form of reports, graphs, charts, and maps to provide detailed intelligence on the current state of the business.

Another important function of a chief data officer is data governance, which is the process of managing the availability, usability, integrity, and security of information or data in a company’s systems. It also implies defining who is granted authority over said information and how that data can be used.

A CDO is also in charge of the area of ​​Data Science which involves extracting insights from both structured information and unstructured data through statistical analysis, Machine Learning, etc.

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Another task that befalls a chief data officer is that of Business Analysis, which consists of the practical and efficient application of digitised statistical analysis of business information, in order to identify and anticipate trends, as well as predict business results.

Finally, in recent years a new function known as Data Ethics Surveillance (Data Compliance) has been added, which arises due to dilemmas and ethical questions about the way in which a company acquires, stores, controls and shares the data.

What are the responsibilities of a chief data officer?

  • Analysis and monitoring of data throughout its life cycle
  • Ensure data quality to make sound business decisions
  • Application of data analysis in business processes and decisions
  • Defining the purposes of the data to help the business strategy
  • Organisation, storage and analysis of data (strategic, operational, etc.)
  • Design and development of data warehouses (Data Warehouses)
  • Development of business intelligence systems
  • Manage data governance strategy
  • Ensure employee access to data by controlling privacy and data protection
  • Promote a good DataOps culture in the company
  • Use the information to generate profit for the company

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What skills are needed for a Chief Data Officer?

To work as chief data officer, a hybrid or multidisciplinary profile is required. Extensive mathematical and statistical knowledge is needed, as well as experience in handling Artificial Intelligence to carry out effective management of business analytics.

Skills of a CDO
Skills of a CDO

Likewise, every CDO must have experience both in business construction and in the development of software in order to create complex information systems.

On the other hand, to efficiently perform this role within a company or business, one must have knowledge about the design of data architecture. for which one must have a deep understanding of data lakes.

Another must-have for this position is the ability to build relationships and project an aura of confidence. A good CDO must be able to clearly understand and transmit the relationship between the information processed and the business strategy.

Skills of a chief data officer:

  • Extensive knowledge of strategy and data systems
  • Experience with collection, storage, quality management and data protection
  • Familiarity with data governance, quality control, data modelling, and visualisation techniques
  • Knowledge of privacy regulations and data protection
  • Knowledge of Big Data solutions and tools
  • Experience in project management and business management
  • Experience working in information management positions

Background and education

A Bachelor’s degree is often needed to work as a Chief data officer. This could be in Information Technology, Data Science, or a related field. Employers also look for candidates who have a PhD or Master ‘s Degree in areas related to Data and information management such as data science or analysis. data, statistics, computer science or the like.

Ideally a candidate should have experience with the following subjects:

  • Statistics
  • Big data
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Business Administration
  • Financial administration
  • Informatics Engineering
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Information Systems Development
  • Telecommunications

Since this is a high-level executive position with a lot of responsibility, companies will value a candidate with experience in information management, data governance or data management functions, as well as leadership functions.

You can choose to obtain certifications that will help you gain this experience and knowledge. Check out options for these down below:

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How much does a Chief Data Officer or CDO make?

In the United States, a chief data officer who’s just starting out can make around $166,000 whereas someone with years of experience can earn around $302,000. The average salary of a CDO is $217,000. 

The salary may vary depending on various factors such as educational background, certifications, additional skills, years of experience, or also the country where the candidate resides.

In Germany, a Chief data officer can earn anywhere between €113,000-€206,000 whereas in the UK, they can earn between £115,000-£209,000.

Chief Data Officer (CDO) salary:

US $166,000 – $302,000
Germany €113,000 – €206,000
UK £115,000 – £209,000

Fractional CDO: Work and Fees

As we have seen, the figure of the CDO plays an important role in the general strategy of the company. However, not all companies can justify the salary of hiring a full-time Chief Data Officer.

For this reason, the figure of the Fractional CDO arises.

But what is a fractional CDO?

This is a professional with the experience and training of a Chief Data Officer who will support a company externally during any defined period.

The work period of a Fractional CDO can range from just a few hours or days a month, to more intense and longer periods, such as working full-time for 3 or more months.

This profile is nothing more than that of a freelance CDO who adopts the figure of a consultant Generally, the work of a fractional CDO will be relevant in companies that already generate value from data, but also need an experienced senior member to help them get more potential from that data in order to meet objectives.

How much does a freelance CDO or fractional CDO charge?

Average Hourly Rate of CDO $100/hour

On average, a freelance or fractional CDO charges $100/hour based on our freelance rate index in December 2022. Considering an 8-hour work day, CDOs could make $800 per day.

Rates for these professionals range from $70-$123/hour.

Natalia Campana

Natalia is part of the international team at freelancermap. She loves the digital world, social media and meeting different cultures. Before she moved to Germany and joined the freelancermap team she worked in the US, UK and her home country Spain. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at www.freelancermap.com

By Natalia Campana

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