From concept to practice: CDO role continues to evolve


One of the big questions posed at today’s IBM Chief Data Officer Strategy Summit in San Francisco is how the CDO role is evolving. A broad range of industries have a wide variety of answers, but according to Seth Dobrin (pictured), Ph.D., vice president and chief data officer at IBM Analytics, a CDO is generally tasked with adding value to the organization through the use of data and deep analytics.

What the datasets are, what analytics tools are used and how the results are utilized can vary widely from company to company, and because of that there is no agreed upon, specific definition of what the function of CDO actually is, Dobrin explained.

“I think today the CDO role is still very ill-defined,” he said. “It’s really industry by industry and company by company … CDOs play different roles within each of those.”

Dobrin spoke with Jeff Frick (@JeffFrick) and Peter Burris (@plburris), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile live streaming studio, at the IBM Chief Data Officer Strategy Summit in San Francisco, California. (*Disclosure below.)

During the interview, Dobrin talked about the value a CDO is tasked with adding to a company, as well as how that value is being realized through an eclectic assortment of individual CDO job functions that vary throughout the enterprise.

No industry standard

As the reams of data explode and analysis tools get smarter, the CDO is a relatively new C-level position that more corporations are adding to their management structures, as those corporations realize the value-added benefit such data provides, Dobrin explained.

But unlike other traditional senior management roles, such as CEO, CFO and COO, industries like manufacturing and finance are realizing the CDO role is as diverse as the industries themselves, Dobrin added. What data is collected, how it is analyzed and what is done with it is driving how companies see the job and how to best profit from it.

“It really depends on where the companies are on their data and digital journey [as to] what role the CDO has,” explained Dobrin.

The concept of CDO has only been around a few years. And unlike traditional C-level positions, the CDO role may or may not ever reach a point where the job functions are the same from company to company throughout the marketplace, he added.

“I think industry by industry you’ll start seeing similar responsibilities for CDOs, but I don’t think you’ll start seeing it across the board like a CFO, where a CFO does the same thing regardless of the industry,” said Dobrin. “I don’t think you’ll see that in a CDO for quite some time.”

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the IBM Chief Data Officer Strategy Summit. (*Disclosure: IBM and other companies sponsor some IBM CDO Strategy Summit segments on SiliconANGLE Media’s theCUBE. Neither IBM nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE