The right CDO can help firms reap the benefits of data-informed decision-making.

Companies are doing more than paying lip service to data-driven decision-making these days; many have added a chief data officer to their already crowded executive ranks. But the question remains whether this once obscure position can deliver enough business value to justify its existence.

Despite the swelling ranks, the responsibilities, focus, and reporting structure for chief data officers remain in flux, often varying by company. There are also constraints on the CDO domain – only half of chief data officers (49.5%) have primary responsibility for data within their firms, and only a third characterized the CDO role as “successful and established.”

The lack of clarity may explain why many find it difficult to quantify the business value of a chief data officer.

Doug Laney, a data and analytics innovation fellow at tech consultancy West Monroe and the author of the book “Infonomics,” maintains that making a business case for the CDO is actually pretty straightforward.

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