UPDATED 21:22 EDT / JUNE 25 2019


Chief data officer emerges from back office to front lines as Big Tech’s data use draws fire

The number of companies with chief data officers on staff has skyrocketed in recent years, with Gartner Inc. reporting that 90% of large organizations will have a CDO by the end of this year. Yet, it remains such a challenging position that Gartner also estimates only half will be successful in their role in 2019.

What’s going on? The answer may lie in the fact that CDOs now play a central role in enterprise information technology, which itself is experiencing major change and complexity.

“The CDO emerged out of a wonky back-office role,” said Dave Vellante, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, who described the evolution of an IT model where data is the central focus. “We see the new innovation cocktail with data as the substrate, applying machine intelligence to that data, and then scaling it with the cloud. And that’s where the CDO comes in.”

Vellante provided detailed analysis during the IBM Chief Data Officer Summit in San Francisco, and he discussed factors behind the emerging role of the CDO and the looming possibility of government intervention to dilute the power of Big Tech and the data it controls (see the full interview with transcript here). (* Disclosure below.)

Focus on emerging tech

One key statistic that is powering the rise of the enterprise CDO is this percentage: 90%. That’s how much of the world’s data was created in the last two years alone.

IBM Corp.’s focus on the role of the CDO has revolved around emerging technologies, such as cognitive digitization, which are becoming important tools in enterprise data management.

“CDOs have gone mainstream,” Vellante said. “What we’re seeing here from IBM is the broadening of that role, definition and responsibilities.”

Data’s power and influence has led to rising concern that the largest tech companies that gather and use information may become too powerful in the process.

There is already precedent for the government to step in and take action to dilute tech’s power. In the 1980s, IBM came under antitrust scrutiny by federal regulators, and the company responded by unbundling its hardware pricing practices and spinning off a services division.

“The Department of Justice took away IBM’s power,” Vellante said. “Fast forward 30 years; now we’re hearing Google, Amazon and Facebook coming under fire from politicians. Having too much power is not necessarily an indication of abusing monopoly power, but you know the government is watching.”

Here’s the complete video analysis, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the IBM Chief Data Officer Summit. (* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the IBM Chief Data Officer Summit. Neither IBM Corp., the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: IBM

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