The prediction season is upon us. IT budget projections, top 10 technologies, the disruptiveness of digital disruption, Electoral College odds. Here’s one hunch I’d put money on.
“We believe that the chief data officer — separate from the chief information officer — will be one of the top critical hires in 2013,” Shawn Banerji said. “By 2015, coming up to 50% of the Fortune 100 will have a chief data officer. That’s up from 5% today.”
Banerji is managing director at executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates. He’s recruited CIOs for 14 years — that is, well before the CIO role was even a job at many companies. His firm is involved in as many as 100 CIO searches a year and upwards of 200 searches for senior IT executives. Companies bend his ear every day on the technology expert they need right now and pick his brains on the one they should have next. They want to know whom they need to hire to take care of the one asset — aside from money — that companies value most today: data. “Empirical data has never been more relied upon,” Banerji said.
Based in New York, the financial capital of the country if not the world, Banerji has seen the hegemony of data at the expense of the gut — up close and personal. The moxie of the trader who wheeled and dealed on instinct that was once so valued? “That’s all changing, as financial trading is run on complex algorithms. You see it in health care, where the focus is on a single view of the patient and outcomes based on all facets of a patient’s life. That’s data,” he said. In other industries, in manufacturing, the ascendancy of data might not be so apparent, but of course that’s changing too, as products, sensorized and tracked, become imbued with a virtual life.