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Do I need a Chief Data Officer to become a data-driven SME?

Updated: May 30, 2023

The short answer is No.

A Chief Data Officer (CDO) is a key c-suite figure in enterprise businesses, where there is a need to oversee a potentially vast tech stack and data landscape and the many functions associated with this from data management, data quality and data strategy. It is a valuable role when the data landscape is complex and there is a need to champion the use of data throughout the organisation and distil relevant information across the c-suite and to investors.

But in an SME, where the data landscapes tend to be more straightforward and the resources working on data services smaller, a CDO would be akin to taking a sledgehammer to a walnut.

However, the solution to becoming data-driven is having the right mindset - to know how to use data to drive value for your business and determine what infrastructure you need. Within an SME we believe that business owners and leaders who adopt a data mindset can drive the data agenda thinking from the top, shaping how data is valued, accessed and used across the business to drive growth.

So the key is for SME business owners and leaders to start thinking with a data mindset. This isn’t solely focussed on technology, but being the advocate on how data is used across the business. This does not replace the need for experts in data services such as data management, processing, analytics etc, but it does provide the direction an SME business needs to transform into a data-driven business negating the need for a costly CDO until such time that the businesses growth requires it.

Today’s Tip: Take a straw-poll across your leadership team to identify how your business uses data to drive decision making today. If it isn't clear, get in touch for some coaching tips on 'how to lead' with a data mindset.


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