I just got back from the CAO conference in Miami, and am excited about some of the changes I see. In this post, I'll summarize the profile of CAOs at this event; the next post discusses topics.
Most CAOs at this event came from government, law, healthcare, and other industries not typically regarded as aggressive data leaders. And most had been in their role less than a year. There were here to listen and learn.
The audience was split evenly when asked, ”How much time do you or your team spend cleaning data?” One-third spent 50% or more of their time perfecting data, one-third spent 20-50% refining it, and one-third spent only 10-20% of their time spiffing up the data. It’s important to note, that a lower amount of time spent cleaning the data does not necessarily indicate sophistication. It could mean they are just starting and have not realized how messy it is.
While 40% do not report to the C-level when asked, “What level within the organization is responsible for data/analytics?”, those that do report to titles are all over the board: CMO, CXO, CFO, CCO, CTO. Further conversation seemed to come down to the idea that it was natural to report to whoever had the most passion about analytics and the influence to get it done.
Cooperation with IT came in at a whopping 70%-30% split with the majority getting what they need. This is a substantial change and shows organizational maturity and directives around the value of data analytics. So what do CAOs need now?
- Greater org understanding, say 54%
- Greater talent, say 23% and
- Executive buy-in, say 13%.
The CAOs at the event report little measurement of ROI for analytics ROI in 2017. This makes sense when much of the work is foundational; it is the output of projects that determine the value delivered. After all, no one ever asks how much the physical office contribute to the bottom line – it’s a sunk operational cost.
Still, when asked to point out their primary KPI, the top answer was direct financial contribution at 23%, followed by customer satisfaction at 22%, cost efficiency at 21%, and other 23%. Customer adoption (which I take to mean new customer acquisition) did not even score. Ouch!
Summarizing the state of the CAO from this event, I can say there is a lot of room for growth. CAOs have a desire to harness data, visualize it, and demonstrate value since most groups are still cost centers. Ultimately, this looks like a huge groundswell of second- wave data enthusiasts just learning and earning their stripes. And since they come from non-traditional data areas, this means more rich data we did not have before. That is good news for all of us.