Why The Role of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) is Gaining Importance

As companies recognize the increasing value of data, the CDO bridges the strategic gap between the IT department and company leadership.

Our friends at CDO Magazine are excited to launch, “A Global Field Guide to CDO Value Creation: An Interview Series with Ben Blanquera.”


Episode One: What role does the chief data officer (CDO) play in a modern organization today?


Ben Blanquera, VP-Evangelist/Senior Architect at Rackspace Technology and Editorial Board member at CDO Magazine, recently discussed the role of CDOs and the importance of analytics and data in organizations with Caroline Carruthers, CEO of UK-based Carruthers and Jackson.

Chief data officers today are working to bridge the gap between their companies’ IT departments and senior leadership, with the goal of ensuring their organizations understand their data liabilities and remain accountable for data privacy. 

As overseer of the management and use of data across an organization, the CDO typically:

  • Manages and leads data-related projects and initiatives
  • Develops and implements data management practices and procedures
  • Identifies and assists in the adoption of new data technologies and tools
  • Works with peers, senior management, the board of directors and key stakeholders to furnish insights that can be used in decision-making
  • Helps to ensure data security and compliance


The unscrupulous use of data, particularly the abuse of personal data, has led to the creation of laws such as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Amid the increase in data flow, information protection has truly commanded the CDO role.

In her podcast chat with Blanquera, Carruthers emphasizes three key areas that any CDO must focus on: regulation, ethics and governance. Here are some steps a CDO can take:

  • Set up ongoing monitoring and build a cadence to refresh plans, since regulatory compliance is fluid and constantly changing.
  • Ensure strong data quality and insights by bringing aboard a data domain expert.
  • Address data governance incrementally. Because this is a massive undertaking, take a layered approach. Start by classifying your data, then focus on the 20% of your data that makes the biggest difference.


Almost every organization today understands the importance of becoming data-driven to improve efficiency and business performance, and it's clear that organizations are prioritizing the role of the CDO. Yet, despite some success stories, many companies need help implementing their data strategies. Carruthers believes AI and machine learning will play significantly increasing roles as CDO capabilities evolve while helping people and companies make decisions faster. With tech talent at a premium and economic belts caught between tightening and loosening, many organizations will have to get scrappy to stay competitive. 

Check out their whole conversation here and keep an eye out for the next in the series. 


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About the Authors

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VP - Evangelist and Senior Architect

Ben Blanquera

Ben is VP-Evangelist and Senior Architect with Rackspace Technology. He works with enterprises, architecting solutions to enable them to drive business outcomes through thriving in a multicloud world.    He is a 35-year veteran in multiple industries including health care, manufacturing, and technology consulting. Prior to Rackspace, Ben was with Covail, a leading-edge provider of AI/ML and cybersecurity services to Fortune 1000 clients. At Covail, Ben was VP of Delivery and transitioned to VP of Revenue and Client Success.  A recognized technology leader, Ben was named a Premier 100 leader by Computerworld. Outside of work, he loves to travel, ride his bike, and spend time with his wife and four daughters. He is an active organizer in the tech community and curates the Central Ohio CIO forum (150+ CIOs) and founded Techlife Columbus. Ben also serves on the Pitch Advisory Board for South by Southwest and the Editorial Board for CDO Magazine.

Read more about Ben Blanquera