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SAP has a wonderful variety of tools and technologies for creating, storing, managing and making use of data. Furthermore it is well known for a huge ecosystem for applications supporting businesses all over the world. Think about S/4HANA, Ariba, SuccessFactor and so on.

Maybe SAP is one of the greatest companies in this area, as it is connecting the worlds where data is created and used for business processes, with the world where data is used for analytics and decision making like no other.

Maybe you are working with SAP BW and SAP BusinessObjects BI or are already with SAP Datasphere and SAP Analytics Cloud. Maybe you use tech like HANA, coding or you are doing AI with HANA APL/PAL, Python and SAP AI Core.

- But why should you care about a role like Chief Data Officer?

Because data liberate itself from there boundaries of tools. We will see more and more ecosystems of data where different vendor tools and cloud services working together and not a single vendor will serve every need within a modern company.

And this is a good message for all SAP data & analytics specialists. The more data is part of the value chain of your company, the more successful is your work and the more is your skill and knowledge about SAP, SAP system structures, SAP interfaces, SAP data semantic and SAP technologies in demand.


So why now a CDO - Chief Data Officer?

The role of a CDO is evolving and not always clear. Here are some challenges CDOs working on:

Data Decentralization - As data is getting more important, responsibility is not only central anymore. We see architecture concepts like Data Mesh and Data Fabric, respecting decentalized data landscapes. As data is getting more important for business departments they go into a stronger data ownership. Someone needs to care about helping that optimization is not only local but also helps the whole organization.

Trusted Data - In times of GDPR and permanently growing data volumes, we need someone bringing data governance disciplines like data quality, data security and data protection together, to enhance trust in data. You nees someone finding the balance between anarchy and bureaucracy.

Data Enablement - Someone who cares about enabling people to make use of data with the right data literacy actions and together with the leadership team creating a data culture being ready to compete in a challenging world where data can help to navigate and to succeed.

Data Innovations - You need someone who can find the right way and quickly adapt to new requirements and trends like ChatGPT/Generative AI or ESG reporting. Focus on the right innovations is an important capability to build competitive advantage.

This person, connecting all this activities could be a Chief Data Officer like no other. Someone who connects, pushes, enables and help you being successful and bring your contribution.


What's in for SAP Data & Analytics people?

On the one hand I am sure as an expert for technology you love to build things just working and doing a great job for what it was requested. You modeled a complex data flow in SAP Datasphere creating insight through connecting data. You build a story in SAP Analytics Cloud end user love and understand intuitively. You set up a planning applications enabling the business to steer their actions and activities for being successful. You build an application with machine learning to accelerate and automate decision making for production or user experience.

On the other hand, if you look back you want to see that solutions you built created impact and been a step for your company on their data journey. But what if the next project is build on Snowflake Data Cloud or the next report is created by the business itself with Microsoft Power BI?

Maybe the SAP open data ecosystem partners are here to help. But from many discussions here I see this is possibly a long way (maybe a topic for another blog).

One thing is for sure. Change is an ongoing thing. If you are in data and analytics for a time you understand that. Focus on things that will last like data and concepts. Having a CDO and support them to succeed this will leaverage your valuable SAP knowledge and experience to be successful together. If he wins, you win.


This is just a weekend thought after a long and insightful week. What is your experience regarding CDO or similar roles in your company? Do you focus more on data or on (SAP) technology? How do you see the future of working with SAP data and analytics technologies? Which role supports you best within your company?
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