The Changing Role of Data & the Chief Data Officer

Last Published: Aug 05, 2021 |
Amit Walia
Amit Walia


Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we’ve seen organizations around the globe accelerate their digital transformations. Companies are engaging with their customers in a different way in the new digital world, building new operating models to bring new products and services to market, and even thinking of new business models to execute their new ideas. All of these efforts call for end-to-end digital transformation, not just modernization.

Four Pillars Drive Digital Transformation

In the short term, we’ve seen organizations increasingly focus on their data strategy. Data management has become a lot more important because organizations have to truly understand and trust their data. And especially for things like contact tracing, you have the right contact data.

In that context, as part of a data coalition of my fellow CEOs, I wrote directly to Congress about the need for valid, reliable data to help us fight the pandemic in a much more thoughtful, data-driven way. We also worked very closely with one of the hardest hit states in the early days of the pandemic. They struggled because they didn’t have the necessary technology. They needed to get the right data quality to analyze health issues and figure out where the virus was spreading. We helped them leverage our technology to understand how to bring the right equipment—PPE, ventilators—to the right hospitals to the right patients at the right time.

And just as innovative enterprises around the globe have leveraged data to transform themselves to serve their customers better and improve their products and services, we recommended that the government do the same. The government is the biggest employer in the US. Taking a data-led approach will help us as a country make informed decisions, including just in time and predictive decisions, based on trusted data with analytics insights.

To enable that decision-making, digital transformation needs to touch every part of the business and should be based on four building blocks:

  • First, you need a strategic mindset, which has to permeate throughout the organization, from the C-level on down.
  • The second building block is a cloud-native strategy. Cloud-native technology is the massive underpinning to accelerate digital transformation.
  • Third, you can’t be digital without being data-led. Data not only helps you make better business decisions, it ensures you can drive innovation at scale.
  • The fourth building block is artificial intelligence (AI), which plays a very big role because we’re dealing with so much complexity and scale. It’s critical that you are AI-centric so you have the intelligence and automation required to move forward at a rapid pace.


four building blocks of digital transformation


The Rise of the Chief Data Officer

In our letter to Congress, we highlighted the importance of the role of the chief data officer (CDO). We’re seeing the rise of the CDO happening across the board. We just did a CDO survey with IDC [1] of 1,291 organizations worldwide. As good stewards of data, CDOs make sure data is governed and privacy protections are in place so that stakeholders can leverage trusted data. These are some of the key tenets of the CDO role.

Data has now become central to decision-making and discussed in the boardroom at the C-level. The IDC survey reveals that 59% of CDOs report to a business leader, either directly to the CEO or to a key leader who reports to the CEO. This shows that CDOs have become a big part of the business decision-making process. In the survey, 80% of CDOs’ key KPIs were tied to business, such as growing net new revenue and improving operational productivity. In more than half of the enterprises surveyed, CDOs have transitioned from a technical, backroom role to playing an integral part in business transformation.

For more than 25 years, Informatica has been leading on all fronts of data management across every technology architecture evolution. The rise of the CDO is an affirmation that data is becoming more and more strategic. As a company, our goal is to move forward and innovate and make sure our enterprise customers across the globe—including our Federal, State, and Local customers—are successful and happy, by bringing data front and center to their decision-making. CDOs play a very important role in driving that effort, and we are partnering with them to help them succeed.

Next Steps

For more on how government is leveraging data to transform its services and deliver on mission outcomes, watch the Data in Action Summit on-demand. And check out my interview with FedScoop, co-sponsor of the Data in Action Summit, prior to the event.

[1] IDC Survey InfoBrief, sponsored by Informatica, “The Priorities, Challenges, and KPIs of Today’s CDOs,” IDC Doc. #US46695720, August 2020.

First Published: Oct 06, 2020