Every day, technology industry changes and disruptions impact enterprises around the world — a new product on the market, an innovative startup on the scene or a bright leader paving a unique path.

While these changes occur center stage, there’s another evolution taking place behind the scenes within every enterprise.

The data evolution (and onslaught) has placed data science at the epicenter of every successful organization’s strategy, driving the need for the Chief Data Science Officer (CDSO).

The Evolution of the CDSO

Ten years ago, the CDSO role was non-existent. It came into being when D.J. Patil was named the first US Chief Data Scientist by President Obama in 2015.

A product of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), who is responsible for focusing on scientific and technological matters within an organization including the company’s hardware and software, the CDSO takes technology within the enterprise to a whole new level.

Companies have been motivated to get on the data train since 1990, when companies began implementing big data collection.

However, making sense of the data was a challenge. With no dedicated person to own and manage the huge piles of datasets being collected, organizations began to flail and sink under the weight of all their data.

Capitalizing on Your Data

It didn’t happen overnight, but data scientists and, subsequently, the role of the CDSO, came to life once companies realized that proper data analysis was key to finding correlations needed to spot business trends and, ultimately, exploit the power of big data to deliver value.

The CDSO role confirms the criticality of collecting data properly to capitalize on it and make certain it is stored securely in the event of a disaster or emergency (some businesses have yet to recover data following Hurricane Sandy).

Having a CDSO allows companies to uncover value from their biggest and most important asset — their data.

Fast forward to 2016. Big data has exploded, but companies are still struggling with how best to organize around it — as an activity, a business function and a capability.

But what exactly can we achieve with it?

CDSOs (and their team of data scientists) are key to the skill set needed to apply analytics to their business, explain how to use data to create a competitive advantage and surpass competitors and understand how to find true value from data by acting on it.

Empowering Data Science Teams

Today, businesses are equipped with data science teams made up of a variety of roles––business analysts, machine learning experts, data engineers and more.

With the CDSO at the helm, the data science team can collaborate and centralize these skills, becoming a hub of intelligence and adding value to each business they serve. With a multifaceted perspective on data science as a whole, the CDSO allows for more innovative ideas and solutions for companies.

With the CDSO, the data science team has a point person who knows how to take their work to a new level and the proper tools to connect more people with more data, both internally and externally.

Staying Cost Efficient

It’s no secret that how businesses handle data has a direct impact on the bottom line. An interesting example occurred at DuPont, a company that defines itself as “a science company dedicated to solving challenging global problems” and is well known for its distribution of Corian solid surface countertops across the world.

When asked if it believed it was covering its entire total addressable market (TAM), company executives were definitive in their response: a resounding yes.

Executives knew they had covered every region in the market and had great insight into analytics via distributors. What they hadn’t taken into consideration, however, was the vast amounts of data embedded within end-customer insights.

Without knowing exactly where the product was being installed — literally, DuPont had no insight into locations where it had not saturated.

DuPont took this information and created countertops that embedded sensors driven by Internet of Things (IoT) technology. By not simply relying on the data provided by its suppliers, DuPont seized the opportunity to increase its pool of knowledge significantly, by adding data science into its product.

This is just one example of how data science and the CDSO can implement previously non-existent processes and drive increased business intelligence in the most beneficial way –– with increased value to its re-sellers and a direct impact on revenue.

Changing the World

There is no room for doubt: it’s proven that innovation in the field of Open Data Science has led to the need for a CDSO to derive as much value from data as possible and help companies make an impact on the world.

John Deere, a 180-year-old company, is now revolutionizing farming by incorporating “smart farms.”

Big data and IoT solutions allow farmers to make educated decisions based on real-time analysis of captured data. Giving this company the ability to put its data to good use, resulted in industry-wide and, in many areas, worldwide, positive changes — another reason why technology driven by the CDSO is an integral part of any organization.

No matter the industry, enterprises will always be reliant on technology and data to help them move beyond the status quo.

The need for an executive-level decision maker proves to be an essential piece of the puzzle. The CDSO deserves a seat at the executive table to empower data science teams, drive cost efficiency and previously unimagined results and, most importantly, help companies change the world.

Title image "seo-dead-data" (CC BY 2.0) by Andrew Girdwood