Organizations struggle today not only to take advantage of vast amounts of data to innovate and transform their business, but also to decide who to put in charge of all that data. Many CEOs recognize the importance of data, but their CIOs or CTOs are already over-taxed with infrastructure initiatives. This is why a new role is rapidly emerging in the market -- the Chief Data Officer (CDO).

The CDO’s job, put simply by TD Ameritrade’s CDO Derek Strauss is to provide the three "A's," or data that is "Actionable, Accurate and Accessible. To accomplish this, they work closely with line of business leaders as well as IT. They are the bridge between what a department wants to accomplish and how to get it done. This puts them in high demand.

In fact, 50 percent of Fortune 500 companies will have a CDO by next year, according to executive recruiting firm Russell Reynolds, a firm specializing in the placement of Chief Data Officers. Gartner estimates there are currently more than 100 Chief Data Officers, mainly in financial services and government.

CEOs who are considering adding a CDO to their C-Suite or already have one are taking the initial steps needed to elevate the role of data in their company to help gain competitive advantage. They are taking the necessary measures needed to derive value from their data through analytics. Chief Data Officers have the ability to focus on simplifying data architecture and access to reduce risk, increase compliance, and improve data quality, usage and value. The CDO is the new authority to drive data transformation.

But where do you start?

The first step is to identify the need for a CDO, what you wish that person to achieve as a member of your C-Suite, and to understand how it can and will transform your business. Second, identify the right person for the position of Chief Data Officer, someone who has tangible authority within the IT and business domains. Third, establish a data management program driven by the CDO. And most importantly, drive a cultural change that can break down data silos across businesses.

Big Data will continue to grow. In fact, with 2.5 billion gigabytes created each day, there’s no getting away from it. With a volume that massive, a vast sea of information, you need someone to steer the ship, to drive the business, transform the data and enable it to become the basis of your competitive advantage. A Chief Data Officer can do just that.

A version of this article appeared on IBM's A Smarter Planet blog on Feb. 11.