Nearly three quarters of IT directors say the inability to generate insights through data analytics will have a negative impact on financial performance

Research undertaken by YouGov on behalf of analytics database provider Exasol finds that 72% of businesses worry that their inability to generate insights through the analysis of data will have a negative impact on financial performance. This is despite a similar number (77%) of respondents stating that data is now their organisation’s most valuable asset.

Aaron Auld, CEO at Exasol, explains:

“After surveying the opinions of nearly 1,000 IT directors in the US, UK and Germany, it was clear that the effective use of data is essential not only for growth, but for survival. And whilst people are very much still at the heart of every business, including at Exasol, it is also important to recognise that data has become a key asset. Yet, many organisations are still struggling with legacy data systems and have no clear data strategy in place. This is where the CDO role has come into its own, harnessing and demystifying data to inform business decisions, improve differentiation and foster financial growth within an organisation.”

The findings of the research, combined with additional desk research and the views from a number of industry commentators, are brought together in Exasol’s new eBook: From CDO to CEO: why your data expertise could make you a future business leader.

A CDO’s ability to intrinsically understand the business and plan for its future will place these individuals as ideal candidates for future CEOs. They understand every aspect of the organisation, meaning they can create a strategy and infrastructure that allows every department to access the data insights they need to grow.

Businesses will continue to struggle without a CDO at the helm enforcing a strategy, as it becomes increasingly important for them to glean insights and value from their data.

Caroline Carruthers, one of the UK’s first CDOs, contributor to the whitepaper and co-author of Data Driven Business Transformation, explains:

“Currently, most businesses are ‘data hoarders’, wanting to get their hands on as much data as possible. However, without people with the skills to understand how to process and use that data, the questions needed to improve data use are not being asked within the organisation. The data is available, but those without experience in data handling don’t know what they don’t know, so they can’t use it to its full value.”

While the value of data professionals isn’t in doubt, the path from CDO to CEO won’t necessarily be a smooth one. Perspectives in the whitepaper from Mark Dexter, managing director of data-specialist recruiter KDR, and Peter Jackson, Director Group Data Sciences Legal & General, highlight the challenges and skills gaps that need to be overcome for CDOs to find their rightful strategic seat in the boardroom. But the potential is there. As Jackson says:

“The C-suite is waking up to how much data can be held and how it can be used wisely.”