Chief data officers: The next big opportunity for analytics professionals

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Collecting a massive volume of quantitative information is just the start of a data-driven strategy. An organization must then determine the most effective ways to distill relevant insights from the raw numbers and use them to direct a strategy for long-term growth. That’s why the chief data officer (CDO) has become an important part of the executive leadership teams in many organizations.

These officers are tasked with overseeing the management and use of data throughout the enterprise. As organizations strive to learn more about the markets where they operate and the behavior of customers, CDOs are positioned to ensure all departments are making the best possible use of this information. For graduates with a master’s in analytics, the position presents an exciting possible career path if they are prepared to take on a leading role in an organization’s handling of data.

A chief data officer’s duties

With more organizations finding a need for tracking and storing large amounts of high-quality data, CDOs have become common in C-suites across numerous industries. While these individuals may be engaged with different tasks depending on the requirements of the individual business, their responsibilities start with information governance. This means they establish the enterprise-level structures, policies and processes for managing data in a way that meets the company’s unique needs.

In addition to administering data-mining efforts and the analytical processing of findings throughout the company, CDOs supervise other aspects of a data-driven operation. They are in charge of taking measures to protect the private information gathered by the organization and maintaining secure systems, ensuring all necessary tools and procedures have been set up for carrying out the data life cycle. Where a chief information officer is primarily responsible for equipping the company with the right information technology and computer systems, the CDO is more concerned with the business relevance of data, as well as managing risk, compliance and information policy.

How the CDO can guide a business to success

CDOs are a vital part of how organizations maximize efficiency and create plans for future investment, because they find the means to turn data into assets with clear business value. The executive can make a tremendous contribution to growth over time by streamlining how the organization shares information between departments, while closely monitoring key performance indicators. He or she determines how customer information, market data and predictive analytics might yield meaningful benefits for the company and then works with other decision-makers to put those findings to work.

The CDO sets up the processes that bring departments quality, thoroughly scrubbed data to speed up analytics and deliver more revealing insights. Based on the information gathered through these procedures, the CDO takes part in finding opportunities for innovation and producing customized products and services that enhance the customer experience. He or she must track relevant shifts in regulations and manage risks across the operation. Finally, the CDO can offer a boost to the company’s bottom line by reducing the costs and redundancies that come from siloed programs for managing data.

Learning to take an executive role in data utilization

As companies realize the crucial need to compete in today’s business landscape by developing robust processes for studying an extensive array of data, roles continue to grow for chief data officers. These jobs offer an exciting chance to lead a business into its future by providing direction for various departments and other decision-makers rooted in an abundance of quantitative information and intensive analytics. To seize these opportunities, leaders need specialized knowledge and skills, such as:

  • Experience managing information and using common big-data tools like Hadoop and MapReduce.
  • An understanding of statistics and data governance.
  • Background in establishing best practices for projects.
  • Past work as a manager for a technical team.
  • Experience with data modeling and visualization.
  • High-level ability in communicating complex ideas and spurring a team to action.

If you want to take a career as an analytics professional to the executive level, you need a firm grounding in the relevant tools, skills and processes. Earning a master’s in business analytics can provide the thorough education the job demands and set you on the path to leading a company’s utilization of data.

Villanova University’s online master’s in analytics program teaches students how quantitative information leads to better strategic decision-making with courses in data management, business intelligence and predictive models. Students gain real-world experience with a capstone project that partners students with a variety of companies. Find out more and learn how to apply by visiting the program page.