2021 Priorities for CDOs

Community Blog
Written by Liz Ramey

FEBRUARY 2, 2021

Throughout 2020, CDOs shared many areas of focus and concern during their local gatherings. The discussions focused on culture, data literacy and governance, as well as effective operating models. As enterprises reacted to the global and social pandemics, CDOs narrowed their focus to digital business acceleration, which has now positioned these executives in a more strategic and influential role.

In a recent Gartner survey, executives were asked, “What are the technology areas where your enterprise will be spending the largest amount of new or additional funding in 2021 compared with 2020?” Out of the top ten increased spending areas noted, four will impact data and analytics teams. In 2021, CDOs will see a rise in funding as the business looks to invest in or repurpose spend in BI and data analytics, AI & ML, digital business, and cloud services. 

As CDOs prepare for increased funding, they will keep their eye on three imperative goals for the future of the enterprise:

  • Embedding D&A in business strategy and results
  • Reengineering decision-making across the business
  • Scaling a data-first culture

Neither of these three objectives will happen overnight, but it’s important for data and analytics leaders to gain the trust of allies that will sponsor each goal and develop a set of leading questions that will help the business begin to pave the path for its digital future.

Goal: Embedding D&A in business strategy and results

Possible allies: COO, CIO, CMO

Questions for enterprise leaders:

  • What business outcomes are we aiming for in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years?
  • What metrics within each function are being measured quantitatively, and which ones are being analyzed qualitatively? 
  • Is data being utilized to influence departmental strategies and/or measure the results of completed strategic initiatives?

Goal: Reengineering decision-making across the business

Possible allies: Executive leadership, mid-level managers

Questions for enterprise leaders:

  • What areas of the business are not utilizing data effectively, and what areas are intrinsically making data-driven decisions?
  • How are we scoping business inquiries to find the best insights to drive decisions? 
  • Do we have data stewards woven throughout each department that are a part of each decision being made?

Goal: Scaling a data-first culture

Possible allies: CHRO, CEO, COO

Questions for enterprise leaders:

  • What tools throughout the enterprise have been most adopted and had the biggest impact on making data-driven decisions?
  • What foundational skills are needed for a data-dexterous organization, and where are the current gaps?  
  • What processes can we retire to help inspire new, automated processes?

As Evanta’s CDO communities gather this year to discuss their objectives, we will continue to develop these questions, share CDO perspectives from the communities, and help data and analytics leaders achieve their goals.



Liz Ramey headshot

Liz Ramey

Director, Content at Evanta, a Gartner Company


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