The dynamic nature of businesses, the need to stay ahead of competition, and scale have all forced many organizations to revisit the way decisions are made. Organizations today accept the fact that they must adopt analytics to make significant gains. Businesses build data warehouses, apply data management principles, and embrace the use of business intelligence tools to improve insight into their data.
However, companies that are ahead of the curve recognize the need to have dedicated teams or an organization to manage data and information. The amount of data available both inside and outside an organization is growing immensely—yet the ability to manage all of it is not keeping pace, and business leaders are drowning in information.
Although many leaders may instinctively turn to the office of the CIO to deliver these insights, usually CIOs are not responsible for delivering business insights. Instead, they are concerned with managing the overall IT infrastructure and the information systems in which the data is captured, processed, and made available to the business.
Chief Analytics Officer
The Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) is an important role, and one that is critical for organizations that want to treat their information as an asset as well as capitalize on and create value from it. The CAO is a business strategist who knows the flow of information, understands its context, and is aware of how it links across the enterprise. He or she uses analytics to capitalize on the data to make sound decisions and achieve better outcomes for the business.
Crafting and implementing an advanced-analytics strategy demands much more than serving up data to an external provider to mine for hidden trends. Rather, it’s about effecting widespread change in the way a company does its day-to-day business. The often-transformative nature of that change places serious demands on the top team. There’s no substitute for experienced hands who can apply institutional knowledge, navigate organizational hazards, make tough trade-offs, provide authority when decision rights conflict, and signal that the leadership is committed to a new analytics culture.
The CAO aspires to help organizations leverage Big Data infrastructure, by designing curated experiences for the entire organization that map data in ways that inform business choices, and moving the power of data into the hands of business decision makers. In short, the CAO is about creating real business value through data analytics and promoting the company’s data-driven culture.
In short, the CAO’s job is to:
• What kinds of data are available–or could be available
• How the data may interrelate
• How to analyze data for best business impact
• Who in the organization needs to have their hands on the data
Given the emerging importance of Analytics with respect to long term and probably short term futures of all companies, it should be of no surprise the growing importance of the CAO. What differentiates the CAO from the rest of his peers in the C-Suite is, it transcends all other C-Level positions and this role will increasingly become as important as the CEO and the CFO.
Defining a data-analytics strategy
Like any new business opportunity, data analytics will under deliver on its potential without a clear strategy and well-articulated initiatives and benchmarks for success. Many companies falter in this area, either because no one on the top team is explicitly charged with drafting a plan or because there isn’t enough discussion or time devoted to getting alignment on priorities. Capturing the potential of data analytics requires a clear plan that establishes priorities and well-defined pathways to business results, much as the familiar strategic-planning process does.
Developing that plan requires leadership. If an organization is serious about driving its business strategy with analytics, then one might need to make room in the C-suite for a chief analytics