A chief data officer (CDO) is a C-level corporate executive who is responsible for an organization's data governance. The CDO position is related to, but separate from, the job of the chief information officer (CIO). As a rule, the CDO reports to either the chief operating officer (COO), chief technology officer (CTO) or the chief executive officer (CEO) of an organization. If the organization has a retail division that is customer-facing, the chief data officer may also work closely with the chief marketing officer (CMO).
The CDO position was originally created in response to increased compliance regulations after the great recession of 2007. At that time, a large part of the CDO’s job typically was to help an organization create data governance policies that would ultimately reduce the organization's compliance burden. The focus of the position has since shifted to helping organizations understand that big data is a business asset that can be used strategically to identify new revenue opportunities and reduce operating costs.
As more organizations move to a data-driven decision management (DDDM) strategy, the CDO must ensure that business users have easy access to relevant data and reporting tools and be able to trust in the data's quality. To that end, the International Society of Chief Data Officers (ISCDO), a vendor neutral peer-advisory resource, seeks to "empower CDOs and others charged with leading enterprise strategy, governance, and management of information and data assets." ISCDO is affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).