The enterprise has reached a turning point with big data. What once felt like a hypothetical volume of data has turned into a legitimate volume of data. Businesses everywhere have been forced to learn how to manage this sudden influx of information. But after learning how to manage it, they have also had to learn how to leverage this data into a competitive advantage. The capacity to turn big data into big opportunity has turned the greater organizational focus towards advanced analytics.
CAO, CDO, CEO, CIO, etc.
And just as the C-suite was beginning to consider making room for the chief data officer (CDO), now there are talks of the chief analytics officer (CAO). From a business standpoint, every business unit can benefit from the power of advanced analytics. According to Computerworld contributor Rob O’Regan, “Not every organization hiring a CAO is a digital pioneer, but many have matured to the point where they need to take a more strategic approach to analytics. Often, these businesses have deployed pockets of analysts and data scientists across the organization — in marketing, IT, operations or finance — but they aren't yet harnessing the collective wisdom or economies of scale. These companies are the prime candidates for a CAO.”
This mentality is logical; there is a distinct need to adopt analytics practices in individual units, and it would be ideal to have someone driving that adoption. As O’Regan points out, the CAO acts as a gateway between IT and business; this role would allow someone to champion IT practices in the language of the business, which would free the hands of both the CIO and CEO.
Trickle-down or Trickle-up?
Here at Intel, we’ve taken a more from-the-ground-up approach. “No longer viewing advanced analytics as the domain of a few data scientists, we want to expand that knowledge to other teams in the enterprise. In particular, business analysts, BI teams, and others can learn how to frame business problems as data mining problems, enabling them to be more effective contributors in data analysis projects…With Intel’s substantial investment in the tools and technology for mining big data, we believe that investing in employees’ analytics skills is equally important. These skills can empower employees to be better contributors and in turn can help the promise of big data be fully realized in the enterprise.”
Intel IT has chosen to focus on several important areas in hopes of bringing easy analytics access to as many business units as possible. Catered levels of training, careful mentoring and selection of analytics teams, and establishment of business and technology processes has allowed a broader segment of employees to bring value to the enterprise.
Prioritizing analytics shouldn’t have to come from the top-down, it should always be working from the ground up. Rather than debating the presence of a CAO, think instead of how you can transform your existing employees and processes.