CIOs may be usurped by CDOs and CTOs: Gartner

As the management of information assets become more important, chief data officers (CDOs) are beginning to emerge. Together with chief technology officers (CTOs), the CDOs may render the role of the CIO redundant, according to Gartner analyst Douglas Laney.
Written by Spandas Lui, Contributor

The role of the chief information officer (CIO) as we know it may become obsolete with the rise of the chief data officer (CDO), according to Gartner analyst Douglas Laney.

The CDO is a relatively new title, and out of the 300 global companies surveyed by Gartner, around only two percent of them, mainly in the US, had someone in that role or performing the functions of that role. Essentially, the CDO is in charge of governance, accountability, and opportunities of the data assets within a company.

While the corporate world is notorious for coming up with grandiose titles for representatives, Laney doesn't believe the CDO is a fad. Rather, he saw the role becoming increasingly prominent in large global organisations.

"I'd say 50 percent of those companies will have a CDO in the next three years," he said at the Gartner Business Intelligence & Information Management Summit 2013 in Sydney.

Technology and data, or information assets, are commonly considered to be under the purview of the CIO. But could the role of the CIO be usurped by a chief technology officer (CTO) and CDO tag team?

"It could be," Laney said. "Most CIOs are so much consumed with technology that they have forgotten their title has 'information' in it. They are very much fixated on the technology side of things."

Laney isn't the only analyst that has expressed doubt about the future of CIOs. IBRS analyst Sue Johnston considered the role of the CIO to be bloated with too many responsibilities.

"CIOs have traditionally been too concerned about the infrastructure component of their companies, so the role will split off to somebody who is going to worry about the infrastructure," she told ZDNet late last year in light of NAB axing its CIO position. "What CIOs should be doing is to help their organisations leverage their information assets, which could be anything from ICT, the infrastructure that supports it, but also helping with analytics and how organisations can better use their information about customers."

Taking advantage of information assets is something a CDO is made for, Laney said, and he or she should be able to treat information as more than just a by-product of a business, but rather, a valuable resource.

Not only can business intelligence be gleamed from data through analytics, it can also be packaged up and productised, he said. The technology and IT infrastructure side of the business can be taken care of by the CTO.

Laney foresaw a day when organisations would be split into three distinct units: business, technology, and information, with a role governing each of them.

That is where there is an opportunity for the CIO to survive and be elevated to an even higher position, according to Laney.

"Depending on the size of the organisation, the CIO could be a role that oversees technology and information," he said.

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