5 minute read 1 Dec 2022

Why Irish organisations need a Chief Data Officer

Authors
Eoin O'Reilly

EY Ireland Partner, Head of Data and Analytics

Passionate about innovation, data and advanced analytics.

David W Ryan

EY Ireland Data & Analytics Partner

5 minute read 1 Dec 2022

Increasing number of organisations are appointing CDOs to leverage data to deliver strategic value and competitive advantage.

In brief
  • Growing recognition of the importance and value of data is leading businesses around the world to appoint data leaders.
  • A CDO needs to balance building the data foundations with helping to define how data analytics can support strategic decision making.
  • The strategic importance of the CDO role means that it should be given a voice and place at the senior leadership table.

Every established business in Ireland should consider having a Chief Data Officer (CDO) to realise the full potential and value of its data. With data being touted as the new oil, organisations need CDOs to build the refineries and infrastructure required to get the oil into the hands of end consumers. CDOs are leaders who can create new ways to unlock the value of data and to use data insights to drive the business forward, as well as build the data foundations and infrastructure.

EY Ireland CDO Report 2022

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EY Ireland CDO Report 2022

A strategic value driver

Data is now recognised as a foundational asset for every business and Irish organisations will require dedicated senior executives to manage that asset. This was among the key findings of research conducted with data leaders in Ireland for the EY Ireland CDO Report 2022 on The Emerging Role of the Chief Data Officer in Ireland.

The growth in both the volumes of data being created and the value of that data has led to the emergence of a new senior executive role – the CDO – whose responsibility it is to maximise and protect the value of an organisation’s data. The need for the role has been gaining widespread acceptance as businesses turn to data to support informed decisions, guide strategy, and deliver competitive advantage.

The number of businesses hiring CDOs is growing rapidly, led by US corporations. The trend varies across sectors, with customer centric and regulated industries such as banks and insurance companies most likely to appoint one.

The most successful appointments tend to be in organisations with a clear view of the interdependency between the CDO and the CTO.

Organisations are increasingly realising that these roles are so interdependent that the CDO can’t succeed without the right technology and platforms to capture, orchestrate and manage data, and the CTO needs high-quality data to feed digital platforms.

It is argued that the roles are so mutually dependent that neither can succeed if they don’t succeed together. Without a CDO in place, the data collected by core digital platforms can be almost valueless. Conversely, brilliant insights could be left unactioned if they are not put in the hands of the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

CDOs are leaders with an entrepreneurial mindset. They understand the importance of customers, of delivering a good experience, and of creating commercial value. They are also becoming enablers of organisational agility and are helping businesses to manage volatility by providing the insights required to help them make the strategic shifts required to ensure survival and profitability.

A strong voice at the C-suite table?

All the executives interviewed for the report believe that the CDO plays a highly strategic role in Irish organisations and that the importance of the position is growing. This is the result of greater buy-in to the value of data on the part of CEOs and C-suites generally.

It is not surprising, therefore, that claims are being made for the inclusion of the CDO in the C-suite. However, this comes at a time when there is a veritable clamour among competing functions and disciplines for membership.

Focusing entirely on the C-suite may be to miss the point, however. The real issue is the reporting line to ensure that the data agenda doesn’t get buried under other layers and gets communicated with clarity to the right people at the right time, thereby delivering long-term value to the organisation.

Summary

The point has now been reached where organisations can no longer afford to be without a CDO if they want to maximise the value of their data as a decision support tool and competitive differentiator. The only question now is how to ensure that the CDO is given the resources and seniority to execute the role effectively.

About this article

Authors
Eoin O'Reilly

EY Ireland Partner, Head of Data and Analytics

Passionate about innovation, data and advanced analytics.

David W Ryan

EY Ireland Data & Analytics Partner