Chief Data Officer Symbolizes Data’s Increasing Importance

More and more companies are putting greater emphasis on data and are striving to become more data driven. Companies are putting greater focus upon AI, on analytics and on making better use of the extensive data that exists within their organizations.  In keeping with this effort, more large companies now have chief data officers to help their organization be more effective in using data.

A recent Wall Street Journal article titled “NBCUniversal Creates Role of Chief Data Officer” by Alexandra Bruell (July 23, 2021) describes how NBCUniversal recently brought in a new chief data officer. The article reports that the new chief data officer will develop enterprise wide approaches to data, rather than dealing with data mainly at the business unit level, as has often been the case in the past. Based on what the article describes, the position’s functional focus appears heavily oriented toward customer experience, advertising and marketing data. Since the new guy’s prior experience, as described in the article, was as global chief corporate strategy officer at a data-marketing agency as well as previously working in a number of roles at that firm, he is well qualified for a role with a heavy advertising/marketing focus.

As I see it, however, and I do have experience early in my career working as that era’s version of a data scientist, there is room for a chief data officer to help an organization become more data driven in a wide range of functional areas, rather than just focusing so heavily on advertising/marketing. However, since NBCUniversal owns TV stations and a streaming service, areas where the ad sales function is an important element of the business, such an intense focus an advertising/marketing may be very appropriate for the organization. But, in general, as companies add chief data officers, they must recognize the value of being data driven across a wide range of functional areas, not just in advertising and marketing, a functional area that has a long history of collecting and using customer data and tends to lend itself well to being data driven.

Nonetheless, it is good to see major companies like NBCUniversal, which is a unit of Comcast, taking steps to be more data oriented and adding a new chief data officer. The fact that more and more companies are adding chief data officers illustrates data’s increasingly important role.

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