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Data Sheet—Thursday, September 3, 2015

What’s the difference between information and data? I found myself puzzling over this brain bender while reading new Forrester Research about the rise of the Chief Data Officer. This is, apparently, an altogether different corporate species than the Chief Information Officer even though most of us those descriptors interchangeably.

Kidding aside, Forrester’s ongoing surveys illustrate the fast rise of a separate and distinct CDO role over the past 12 months.

Fully 45% of the roughly 3,000 companies it polls regularly have assigned someone to oversee data strategy, while another 16% plan to do so within another year. “Top performers” boasting revenue growth of more than 10% were even more likely to include this role on their organizational charts.

The CDO’s job description varies dramatically, depending on the employer. For some companies, it’s about governance and compliance, about better organizing data so access is more tightly embedded into existing business processes. Others focus on the power of predictive analytics and insights, especially ones that help them become more customer-obsessed.

Just to further confuse matters, some companies appoint Chief Digital Officers, a title that winds up wanting the same acronym. On the face of it, digital strategists are focused on very different things than data gurus, such as automating paper-dependent business process. But both have the same central concern: making a company smarter by using the data it already has—and continues to collect—in smarter ways.

The mandate for choosing the specific technology to pull this off usually remains with the CIO. “Having a CDO isn’t a prerequisite to success, but in a data-driven world, where competitors glean actionable insights from their data, if you don’t have the ability to do that you better think twice about how you plan to achieve your goals and eventually survive,” notes Forrester analyst Jennifer Belissent. “The CDO role galvanizes an organization around the promise of data.

Right now, CDOs are equally as likely to report to the CEO as they are to the CIO. That underscores one of the more important aspects of this job: helping line-of-business executives and information technology get (and stay) on the same page. “The most successful CDO potentially works themselves out of a job by establishing a best practice and transferring it to another organization,” Forrester notes in its analysis, “Top Performers Appoint Chief Data Officers.” (Subscription required.)

By the way, you won’t find a CDO on the management teams of many highly visible “digital natives” Neither Uber nor Netflix has one. But that’s because data has been central their strategy since Day One.

TOP OF MIND

Google’s latest mobile strategy declaration prompts uproar. Come Nov. 1, its search engine will demote web sites that use “frustrating” ads that implore visitors to download apps when they arrive. Its beef is with ones that take up most of the smartphone screen. Rivals paint the plan as an attempt to retain its dominance in search as web-surfing via mobile devices becomes more prevalent. (New York Times)

 

TRENDING

Twitter promotes key exec amid ongoing CEO search. Jeff Seibert, who previously managed developer relationships, is taking over responsibility for the company’s core consumer services. Great, but stockholders are growing more impatient for a decision about someone to steer the company. (Re/code, Bloomberg)

HP is more interested in 3-D printing, but it may ditch cybersecurity. Its senior vice president of imaging and printers, Steve Nigro, was reassigned to think entirely in three dimensions. Meanwhile, it is entertaining buyers for its TippingPoint division, which specializes in firewalls. (Fortune, Reuters)

Amazon’s Dash Buttons are now essentially free. The e-commerce giant is expanding its innovative “one click” buying program with new brands including Hefty and Ziploc. (Fortune)

Sony Pictures settles with former employees. It was sued by nine people concerned over theft of their personal data during the entertainment giant’s “Hack of the Century” cyberbreach last year. The amount wasn’t disclosed. (Reuters)

Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe owe $415 million in poaching case. The companies were accused of colluding over hiring practices, making it difficult for engineers to change jobs. (Computerworld)

Smartphones galore! Sony’s forthcoming revision could have the sharpest screen ever, double the pixel density of the current iPhone 6. Plus, Google is prepping two new Nexus models in collaboration with partners LG and Huawei. (Fortune, C/Net)

Meanwhile, the Apple-Samsung dispute still lingers. A fourth jury trial (the second retrial) is set for next spring. The focus is on calculating damages related to five Samsung products: the Fascinate, Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy S Showcase, Mesmerize, and Vibrant. (Ars Technica)

THE DOWNLOAD

Why LinkedIn is important to the future of the Internet of things

LinkedIn is not often thought of as a technological giant on par with Google or Facebook, but the professional networking pioneer has made some significant contributions to the way that companies capture and analyze the mountains of data they’re generating. Undoubtedly the biggest is an open source technology called Kafka. Originally developed to pass messages between the pieces of LinkedIn’s sprawling web application, it is now becoming a fundamental component of the movement to connect everything from toothbrushes to jet engines.

 

BITS AND BYTES

This smartwatch was made for women. Motorola’s latest line includes models designed specifically for the fairer sex. (Fortune)

Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi may introduce a laptop. The first one could hit the market by early next year. (Bloomberg)

Question about commercial drones? Two officials were named to spearhead the FAA’s official policy, now due out next June. (Reuters)

MY FORTUNE BOOKMARKS

Marissa can parent however she wants — as long as she sends one message to employees by Kristen Bellstrom

This startup’s fast charging battery technology could land on cell phones next year by Katie Fehrenbacher

Why Apple’s iPad, Watch may outshine iPhone at its Sept. 9 event by Don Reisinger

 

ONE MORE THING

Get it right the first time. This interior construction firm uses virtual reality to test blueprints in the “real world” before letting anyone pick up a hammer. (Fortune)