Gone are the days of the one-title-fits-all-technology-roles in the enterprise Relevant Products/Services. The industry has evolved to include various specialties and the position of Chief Data Officer is becoming one of the most important.

Indeed, in today's world of big data, the need for a chief data officer is emerging as a hot topic. According to market-research firm Gartner, this trend, combined with the increasing need to understand how data is being used within a company, is driving the demand for CDOs.

As the name suggests, a chief data officer is responsible for governing enterprise data and leveraging customer data as an asset. That means overseeing how data is collected, analyzed, and secured.

CDOs obviously need to work closely with others in the C-suite, including the chief technology officer, chief information officer, chief marketing officer, chief security officer, and of course the CEO. In fact, depending on how responsibilities are allotted, there can be considerable overlap between the duties of a chief data officer and the CTO or CIO on the technology side, as well as the CSO on the security side, and the CMO on the marketing side.

CDO's Stock Rising

Gartner predicts that by 2015, 25 percent of large global organizations will have appointed CDOs. The Gartner research also estimates that 65 percent of CDOs are in the U.S., while 20 percent are in the U.K. To-date, the CDO role can be found in more than a dozen counties, and more than 25 percent of CDOs are women.

Not surprisingly, the position is most commonly found in heavily regulated industries, media and government. But it doesn’t stop there. So the question, then, is, does your company need a CDO?

The answer may be yes if you need a peer and partner who can manage data and who has the knowledge, background and skills to do so, Debra Logan, research vice president and Gartner Fellow, wrote in a blog post. That, she said, is because the CDO makes room for CIOs to focus on the more than full-time jobs that they already have.

Owning It

CDOs are appearing more rapidly in some industries than in others. “Banking, government and insurance are the first three industries to adopt the CDO role and in that order. However, we are now seeing other industries following,” Logan said. “For example, we saw the first significant appointments in the advertising industry in 2013.”

Logan stressed that CDOs don’t “own the data.” They may, however, own key processes around the data and be "in charge" of some data.

“The CDO owns a few things, but coordinates the use of data in other places,” Logan said. “This is exactly like a CFO, who owns a few financial processes, like consolidation and treasury, but other than that, coordinates the use of capital throughout the organization.”

Why You Need a CDO

Jane Griffin, a principal at Deloitte Consulting, believes it is necessary to elevate the oversight of data management to the executive level. For one thing, she said, the evolving view that data is a corporate asset is driving a new emphasis on corporate data governance Relevant Products/Services.

“To be executed effectively, the process of corporate data governance will require more than the traditional data steward,” Griffin said. “Customarily, data stewards have been tasked with defining the processes of collecting data, ensuring that it was formatted correctly for enterprise systems, and keeping that data current and relevant.”

As Griffin sees it, data stewards have also traditionally been responsible for establishing data standards, procedures, and accountability for data within a given area. There are typically multiple data stewards in a company who are responsible for different -- often arbitrarily defined -- data areas.

What’s more, she continued, since many businesses are investing in building enterprise-wide service-oriented architectures, and integrating their applications and systems across their companies, it’s no longer efficient to create individual data fiefdoms and have standards, policies, and procedures for each one.

“Instead, it’s crucial to have a C-level person who is responsible for crafting and implementing data strategies, standards, procedures, and accountability policies at the enterprise level,” she concluded. “CDOs also typically function proactively by championing data as a strategic business asset and driver of revenue.”