Why aren't there more Chief Data Officers, asks Nathan Wenzel at Edge Solutions. Wenzel's interest is in organizations making better use of their data. But does this point to a need for such a role? He talks about Nate Silver's success in predicting the Presidential election, and reports that Trulia has a chief economist.
Now, I'm sure many organizations have a chief economist. The role of any economist is to make sense of data, whether he or she is a chief or not. However, the other examples of good practice Wenzel cites in his piece are not about the appointment of individuals, but crowdsourcing. One is Netflix's $1m prize for anyone who can improve its recommendations algorithm. The other is for Allstate's competition to determine rules for policyholders renewing.
These contests suggest it's not so much a Chief Data Officer that organizations need, but a route to the wisdom of crowds. Economists are trained to see patterns in data. Many non-economists have trained themselves to see patterns, or are naturally gifted rule spotters, or are able to transfer analytic skills from one domain to another. Rather than seeking to appoint individual data tsars, organizations need to attract people who are interested in working with data - wherever they are. Where are the Chief Data Officers?