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Female Technology Executive

Chief Data Officers: Your New Customer?

As a total service provider (TSP), you likely know how to sell your company’s IT services to CEOs and CIOs. You’ve also dealt a bit with CFOs and chief marketing officers as cloud-based applications took hold. But now, there’s a new name in the c-suite. Her title: The chief data officer (CDO). Do you know how to sell to her?

Generally speaking, CDOs oversee how companies gather, manage, protect and monetize data. Still, CDO priorities can vary ever-so-slightly from one vertical market to the next:

  • In the government market, CDOs spend most of their time worried about open government and citizen privacy issues.
  • In the finance and retail markets, CDOs obsess over corporate compliance and monetization opportunities.
  • In the healthcare market, CDOs think about patient privacy, big data analysis for medical research, and plenty more.

Fully 61% of CIOs want their companies to hire a CDO within the next 12 months, according to Experian. Moreover, 47% of CIOs say their biggest barrier to success is the sheer volume of data – which can be overwhelming as businesses strive to improve their interactions with audiences.

What CDOs Want From You

Admittedly, CDOs are not your traditional IT services customer. VARs and MSPs focused on database management systems, business analytics and machine learning are likely best positioned to engage CDOs for exploratory meetings. Still, data-driven channel partners represent a relatively small slice of the overall IT channel.

Want to tip your toes into a CDO’s waters? One area to potentially focus involves Hadoop as a Service. Hadoop — available from Cloudera, Hortonworks and MapR — has emerged as a popular platform for building and running big data applications. It’s also widely available via Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, IBM SoftLayer, Microsoft Azure and Rackspace Cloud, among many others.

Reality Check

The CDO wave is certainly wheel. In recent months, companies and organizations naming CDOs to their executive suites have included Catalina (digital marketing), CenturyLink (service provider) and Wunderman (global ad agency).

Still, some pundits think the CDO position is a temporary opportunity — created to fill a business gap between CIOs and chief marketing officers.

My spin? CDOs are somewhat like chief information security officers (CISOs). My reasoning goes like this: Sure, a minority of companies have such a position. But within the companies where CDOs and CISOs exist, there are big selling opportunities for total service providers.

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