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2014… beyond the Govt CIO and into the Chief Data Officer?

01 Nov 13

The development and implementation of digital government strategies is putting the government CIO role under pressure, leading to the creation of new roles.

So much so that Gartner predicts that by 2014, more than 10 percent of government organisations will have appointed a chief data officer and over 20 percent will have appointed a chief digital officer.

“Digital government strategies issued in several jurisdictions during the past 12 months, as well as the continued momentum of open government, are bringing new leadership roles to the fore,” says Andrea DiMaio, managing vice president at Gartner.

“In government, as well as other industries, roles like chief data officer or chief digital officer are emerging in response to the increasing importance of enterprise digital assets.”

The newly created roles are likely to coexist with more traditional ones according to DiMaoi, like CIO and chief technology officer (CTO), in the short term at least, necessitating a close working relationship between new and existing roles.

“Government CIOs must establish good working relationships with chief data officers, chief digital officers or equivalent roles introduced to support the digital strategy, and identify areas where they can add value to a different role's responsibility,” DiMaio says.

“They should also push for a clear demarcation between their role and the roles of others with regard to information by defining clear principles about ownership, purpose and use.”

In the longer term, however, Gartner believes that the overlapping roles and the lack of a sufficiently clear distinction about responsibilities on information management, together with a loss of emphasis on and enthusiasm for digital and open government strategies, will inevitably lead to rebalancing those responsibilities.

Speaking at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Australia this week, Gartner research director Rick Howard said the most vulnerable role in this scenario will be that of the chief data officer, because the tension between the internal information management focus of the CIO and the external focus of the chief digital officer will intensify.

“The application of open data principles to data other than public data will give CIOs the ability to regain a key role on driving the data architecture well beyond the externally facing remit of a chief data officer," Howard said.

"As a result, the chief data officer role is very likely to be subsumed by the CIO or the chief digital officer.

"The title may remain, but the occupant will likely be reporting to the CIO or the chief digital officer."

Government CIOs need to assess whether they can and are willing to take over some or all of the responsibilities of other roles and build a road map to do so.

They should move, as soon as possible, the discussion on open data from how to best share data with the public to the broader role that open data can play when applied to non-public enterprise data.

During the next three to five years, Gartner believes that the friction between chief digital officer and CIO will become more evident.

While internal technology operations, as well as some aspects of technology innovation, will be left to the CTO, the battleground for CIOs and chief digital officers will be on information. By that time, all information will be digital, with other forms being a copy or an original for digital information.

Furthermore, most government organisations will have understood how to balance the value of internal information with information residing in social networks and other types of non-controlled data sources.

Some of the original impetus that drove the establishment of the chief digital officer role will be subsumed by business unit leaders who now understand much more clearly the value and role of digital information, and are responsible for striking the balance between internal and external.

As a result, Gartner predicts by 2017, more than 60 percent of government organisations with a CIO and a chief digital officer will eliminate one of those roles.

“The chief digital officer and the CIO will become information custodians, providers and, most of all, advisors. However, it will be up to the business to determine how to strategically use that information. In such a situation, there is little reason for keeping two separate roles,” Howard added.

“Most likely, the chief digital officer role will be absorbed by, or become indistinguishable from, the CIO role.

"In a minority of organisations, the reverse might be true, mostly due to the negative connotation of the CIO as a "role of the past." It is quite possible that the new integrated title will be chief digital information officer.”

Will 2014 be the year of the Govt Chief Data Officer? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below

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