Written by Heather L. Cole, February 2nd, 2023
I was WRONG! GULP! Wow that’s hard to say but I am afraid it might be true! For years I have been preaching that to get momentum in your analytics you needed to commit to the initiative and hire team members focused on analytics and ideally hire a Chief Analytics Officer. But I have changed my mind. I now believe for many companies hiring a Chief Analytics Officer might slow down Analytics Adoption.
A Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) is a high-level executive position responsible for overseeing an organization's data analytics strategy. While the appointment of a CAO can bring many benefits to an organization, it can also lead to slowing down the analytics process. In this blog, we'll explore some of the reasons why a CAO can slow down analytics.
For analytics to flourish in an organization it must follow the adage, “for the people by the people”. Every department needs to be part of the solution. They must help define where analytics can solve pressing business problems in their areas. The entire organization needs to embrace an Analytic Culture and work together to become data driven. When a Chief Analytics Officer is hired and leads an analytic department, other departments often decide analytics is not their problem. Finance, Marketing, HR... all need to be accountable for being part of the solution. But, when there is a department in charge of analytics, they no longer feel they need to be accountable. Without all departments committed to and accountable for their role in analytics, analytics success will be significantly slower and harder to achieve.
The appointment of a CAO often brings with it a layer of bureaucracy that can slow down the analytics process. CAOs often must navigate multiple stakeholders, conflicting priorities, and navigate organizational politics, all of which can take time and slow down the analytics process. Furthermore, if the CAO came from outside of the organization which many do, they may not have the influence needed to succeed.
Focus on compliance and security:
CAOs are also responsible for ensuring that the organization's data analytics processes are compliant with regulations and secure. This can often mean that the CAO has to put security and compliance measures in place, which can slow down the analytics process. It a fine balance between security data and distributing data for analytic use. Meanwhile departments are looking for information rapidly, and if they feel the CAO is just slowing them down, they may not provide the collaboration required to properly discover and define departmental requirements.
Chief Accounting Officers are often tasked with driving change within an organization. However, change can often meet resistance, especially when it involves processes that have been in place for a long time. This can slow down the speed of analytics as the CAO has to navigate the resistance and get everyone on board. If CAO’s are not trained in influence, persuasion, negotiation, and facilitation they may face change resistant departments.
To learn more, see our blog Facilitating Analytic Discovery for Success.
Changing to an Analytic Culture:
To really succeed in analytics an organization must make the changes necessary to convert the culture to embrace data and analytics. The first step is to define what data driven means. According to Scott Castle in his Forbes blog, Rise Of The Analytical Executive, Data Driven means “implementing a hypothesis-driven culture where we identify theories, test them, and rigorously seek to disprove them while rapidly implementing those that show promise.”
So, then the question shifts to how does a Chief Analytics Officer get an entire organization to take an almost scientific approach and embrace being wrong? According to Gartner in their article Create a Data-Driven Culture by Influencing 3 Areas, leaders must inspire people to believe that change is necessary.
I believe, this is not a one-person job! Inspiring people requires people to trust you, believe in your vision, and believe they will benefit from the changes. This requires all leaders in the organization to be on board and become analytic leaders, not just the CAO. For more information on what makes an Analytic Leader, see our recent blog, 7 Traits of Analytics Leaders.