Chief Data Officer jobs are gaining traction in some sectors with this title having covered Chief Data Officers working across large retail, media, banking, financial services and public sector organisations, while Gartner's more headline-grabbing prediction was that 90% of large organisations would have a CDO by 2019. [See also: Chief Data Officer job description and salary - What's the role of the CDO and how much do CDOs get paid?]
There is no blueprint for starting a new Chief Data Officer role however, although the above-mentioned analyst and consultancy house has produced a roadmap for the first 100-day 'honeymoon' period designed to help new CDOs establish themselves and create perceptions about the new function.
Beyond the advice of prepare, assess, plan, act, measure and communicate, we heard from four Chief Data Officers at Gartner's own Enterprise Information Management event in London this month about starting a greenfield CDO post.
1. Sell data vision
Chief Data Officer at The Economist, Stephane Pere, said that selling the use case for the role was crucial.
"When I got the job there was no agenda, no goal or job description," he said. "I was a sales guy selling banner ads and pages for years so now I'm selling the data vision.
"I now think of data as a product, data as an enabler, then data as a service and maybe eventually data as a business. Don't think data as a new revenue stream, but a way to reinforce your current business models."
2. Gain trust
Lloyds Banking Group Chief Data Officer David Grant said that at his organisation gaining trust was important to how the financial services organisation was viewed.
Grant said: "The role was created by the exec committee who realised that data was going to be critical going forward, and that the regulators would be very interested. I walked into role with a blank sheet of paper so quite a scary mandate. The key thing we are trying to add is trust from regulatory and trust point of view."
3. Add value
Vanessa Eriksson, the CDO at Scandinavian telco TeliaSonera, said that keeping it simple was her priority going into the new job, while being wary to constantly sell the CDO role to add - and show that you are adding - value to the mobile network operator.
She also said that it needed to be a standalone role initially working with other executives and departments since Eriksson knew if she immediately demanded budget and headcount her proposals would not be received as well. "I tried to keep it as simple as possible," she said.
4. Be an enabler
Marco Bressan, the Chief Data Scientist at multinational Spanish bank BBVA, recommended that new Chief Data Officers just starting out ignore any tech side of the role altogether.
"Don't start with the infrastructure or the technology, start with the projects. Think of yourself as an enabler much more than an owner, and concentrate on making the organisation smarter," he said.
CDO and CIO relationship
The Chief Data Officers offered different perspectives on working with the CIO and IT department. Economist Chief Data Officer Pere said that the role had been created by the CMO and CEO, but that his data leadership role reported in to Chief Digital Officer Jora Gill. The Economist's IT function is in the remit of digital leader Gill, a former CIO himself.
Eriksson said at TeliaSonera said that "there is always resistance from the CIO and IT" but new CDOs have to be loud enough to make sure senior management understands the value of the Chief Data Officer, while Grant said that at Lloyds IT and the CIO function saw the strategic importance of a CDO, as long as they did not try to meddle with the technology side.
"IT sort of got the Chief Data Officer role it as long as it didn't touch them," Grant said. "Intellectually CIO and IT get it, there were lots of dances around phraseology but they get it as long as it doesn't affect the core technology."
Bressan warned that there was a possibility for friction with the CIO since there is a skill overlap between the analytics and technology teams which organisation may need to work around, but that fundamentally analytics was horizontal across the organisation and touched all departments.