Ok, forget the lofty title. The last thing most companies need is another new C-level position. Nevertheless, every company from a Fortune 500 titan to a 20-person law firm needs the equivalent of CAO.
Why? And what is the role of a Chief Analytics Officer?
Here is the unspoken fact: the data analytics “knowledge gap” between Boards of Directors/CEOs and their in-the-trenches employee teams is expanding every day. The upside opportunities and downside risks of data analytics are huge and game-changing. As both a CEO of a private company and Director of a large public company I see both sides. And to be honest, I learn every day how little I know and how much I need to learn.
The Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) is a rare breed of executive who can bridge this gap between a) deep knowledge of rapidly advancing data and analytics technologies and applications, and b) fundamental strategic business decisions that affect revenue growth, customer loyalty, and brand trust.
Let’s start with the upside opportunities. In every industry, emerging new competitors are challenging legacy incumbents with new, data-driven strategies. Intelligent data analytics are being embedded in both products themselves, and in how those products are taken to market.
As devices and internet-enabled “things” proliferate exponentially, the data that these devices generate expands at an even faster rate. It requires constant diligence to keep up with what’s relevant and available data. The next data stream you don’t know about could be an opening for a competitor, if you don’t see it first. Likewise, inside the organization, data must be used to segment, target, and engage with customers and prospects in real-time. Buyers are being hammered with message after message, and marketing fatigue set in long ago. With the right data—and the right business know-how to use these data—the marketing and sales pipeline can go from being a race to the bottom to a value-driving experience.
With so much at stake, ask yourself a simple question: how much does your company’s Board/CEO really understand big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence? Does the CEO have the time to stay on top of all of the new data sources coming online, and all of the ways that analytics can make prospects go from “ignore” to “teach me?”
The job of the Chief Analytics Officer, in short, is to:
- Monitor data signals coming online both inside and outside the enterprise, and to proactively connect these to profit-driving business actions.
- Recruit, develop, and retain a world-class data science team that can react to challenges in a responsive, agile way.
- Strategically deploy big data, machine learning, and related disciplines across the enterprise, in business-impacting ways.
- Drive knowledge of data science across disciplines outside of the data science “center of excellence.”
- Future-proof the organization by envisioning 3-5 years down the road in terms of both data and machine learning/algorithm needs.
At MarketBridge, we welcome Andy Hasselwander on board to not only help us develop and execute our own data analytics opportunities but more importantly, help our C-level clients and their teams keep pace and get ahead of competition.