At the end of last year, 25 per cent of large global organisations had already hired a chief data officer (CDO).
By 2019, Gartner expects that number to reach 90 per cent, signalling an age of “infinite possibilities” for channel partners.
“This rapid shift is the tip of the iceberg,” Gartner research vice president, Ted Friedman, observed. “It represents a much deeper change occurring throughout most organisations.
“Practitioners of distinctive data and analytics disciplines will need to broaden their understanding, and work more closely with others to realise the benefits of using data and analytics to capture transformative business opportunities and mitigate risks.”
In short, the journey toward digital business is, at its core, a drive to better collect, manage and exploit data assets and apply analytics for richer insights.
By 2018, Gartner predicts that over half of large organisations will compete using advanced analytics and proprietary algorithms, disrupting entire industries.
This, in turn, is being driven by the proliferation of devices, connected "things," connectivity and computing power - all of which creates more opportunities to collect data, analyse it, and potentially monetise it.
As business leaders start to grasp the huge potential of digital business, while demanding a better return on information assets and use of analytics, the importance of the partner heightens.
From a channel perspective, CDOs will face a number of challenges, to the extent that only 50 per cent will be successful by the end of 2019.
Consequently, challenge and complexity creates opportunity for partners, with the role new in most organisations, meaning that most CDOs will be learning on the job.
Therefore, they will have the difficult task of creating an information strategy with relevant metrics that tie the activities of their team to measurable business outcomes.
“With the explosion of datasets everywhere, an important task is determining which information can add business value, drive efficiency or improve risk management,” Gartner research vice president, Mario Faria, added.
“The CDO's role will raise expectations of better results from an enterprise information management strategy, with stakeholders wanting a clear idea of the exact mechanics of making success a reality.”
Specific to the channel, partners can find success in helping CDOs create an enterprise information management strategy based on the organisation's business strategy and predominant value discipline.
In addition, they can help the executives build trust with various business stakeholders, especially the CIO, alongside advising how best to educate senior leaders and peers about the role that data and information play in overall business success.
Delving deeper, CDOs will also seek help in establishing baselines on information governance and data monetisation from which progress can be measured, as well adopting formal information asset measures and share them with the organisation.
“The opportunities to generate business value from data and analytics are practically infinite,” Friedman added.
“The challenge is how to harness this rapidly expanding landscape - how to target the right opportunities - despite internal constraints such as budgets, governance mandates, skills and culture, and external forces like competition, market dynamics and regulatory and social pressures.”
Looking ahead, Friedman said the modern data and analytics leader has an “unprecedented chance” to transform the organisation on its journey into the world of digital business, and the course of action for partners is clear.
“Craft a strategy to overcome the data science skills gap, modernise data infrastructure and analytic platforms, govern and take advantage of diverse information sources, and spearhead data and analytic projects that have high-value payback,” he explained.