From the beginning of this century, the world has been increasingly becoming more information and data-driven. And in response, the first designation created in the corporate world was IT officer. But this quickly proved insufficient. And soon, many other relevant posts, such as Chief Information Officer and Chief Data Officer, had to be created.

However, it is pretty challenging to keep up with such segregation. And often, confusion arises regarding these posts. For instance, what is the difference between chief information officer vs chief data officer? The roles seem very similar, yet the contrast is significant. The following article shall look into this matter.

Who Is A Chief Information Officer (CIO)?

A Chief Information Officer is responsible for managing the technological systems of a company that works with information. And such technologies are computer systems and various business intelligence software. A CIO decides how and which technology implementation best benefits his company.


However, this doesn’t mean a CIO is concerned with the everyday operations of the company’s computer system. Although, it might have been that way in the past when the digital information world was less complicated. At present, the chief operations officer of the IT department takes care of the daily computer affairs.


In contrast, the chief information officer’s role is less technical nowadays. Instead, they take the position of a leader and a consultant. Here, the CIO analyzes the current technological trends and tries to understand what it means for the future of this company. And then sets his plan accordingly.


So, a CIO might create a website for his company that he thinks will help them keep up with the new digital demands of the customer. Or, they might advocate allocating the budget to business software, which they believe would contribute to the company’s growth and prosperity.



Who Is A Chief Data Officer (CDO)?

A chief data officer is a relatively newer position in the hierarchy of digital corporate posts. With the advancement of digitalization, every aspect of human life started generating lots of data. And that applies to the business sector too. This is where the CDO comes in, whose job is to manage and make sense of all these data.

So, the job of the CDO has to do primarily with data management. A Chief Data Officer finds ways to store and sort the massive amount of data a business generates. Afterward, they play significant roles in analyzing the data to discover customer behavior patterns and market trends.

Even a moderate-scale company can get lost in its data without proper management in the digital age. This is why it is essential to adopt the right strategies to use the data. And the CDO is responsible for adopting such techniques to better the company and give it a competitive edge.

The role of CDO is still new and developing. So, it might sometimes be challenging to determine all its functions. Usually, a CDO is expected to ensure the quality of data the company works with, govern the data collection, manage it, adopt proper strategies and analyze it to find new directions for the company.

Chief Data Officer VS Chief Information Officer: What’s The Difference?

The designation of CIO and CDO has a common purpose- they exist to keep the company relevant in the digital age. In other words, their goals do not clash with each other. The only difference between the two is how they fulfill their duties.

A Chief Information Officer is mainly responsible for maintaining the technological infrastructure that works with information. In other words, a chief information officer provides the ideal environment to make possible the proper carrying out of data-related tasks.

In contrast, a Chief Data Officer uses the systems and infrastructure provided by the CIO to manage and find the use of the data the company generates. Note that this data generation was also possible because the CIO had put up a system for it in the first place.


Also, keep in mind that both CIO and CDO can play the roles of a consultant and leader. For instance, a CIO shall advise the company on what new IT methods they should adopt to keep pace with the current technology trends. Meanwhile, a CDO shall analyze the data and advise the company on customer trends.

Another confusion regarding the two roles is the hierarchy. So, who’s the boss? CIO or CDO? Well, the CIO is an older and more defined position. Therefore, if a new CDO joins a company, the CIO will probably serve as a guide and a mentor. Plus, in most companies, the CDO shall be someone who previously worked in the CIO’s department.


However, the roles are less about subordination and more about working with each other. And as for the question of superiority, ideally, both a CIO and CDO will answer to the CEO. Although, a CIO, of course, deserves respect and importance as a senior executive.

Final Thoughts

In no way is the role of the chief information officer vs chief data officer in opposition to each other. Instead, they complement each other through the responsibilities they fulfill.

So, the distinction between them is only essential because that may define their roles better and let them help the company more.

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