People in meetingChief Analytics Officers (CAO) and Chief Data Officers are key emerging analytic roles. Is there a difference between them? What is the role of a CAO? Is it a lot of window dressing or do they have real power? Lastly, how can BI Competency Centers (BICC) benefit from or work with them? 


The Chief Analytics Officer role started taking off about five years ago largely driven by Big Data. I first heard of the role about eight years ago from a colleague with that title at an insurance company which had a new CEO from outside the industry. The International Institute for Analytics, a specialty research and analyst firm for analytics co-founded by Tom Davenport, began holding an annual Chief Analytics Officer Summit about four years ago. The role is growing both in mind share and in reality, fueled by the focus on more machine-generated data and more real-time analytics. Most large organizations and some forward thinking medium-sized organizations now have a CAO or that role by another name.

The Role of the Chief Analytic Officer

Ideally a senior management level role, the CAO is responsible for stewardship of data as a corporate asset and driving the business value of that data through the application of analytics. In some organizations a similar role is played by the chief innovation officer (CIO)or SVP of Strategy. Titles vary from organization to organization; some companies have used the term chief data officer (CDO) for the same function, others view the CDO as more data stewardship focused.

One organization has both a chief data officer and a chief science officer where the chief data officer has responsibility for advanced analytics and their data science team and the chief data officer has “ownership” of the data. But to be clear, the chief data office is not the same function as the chief data security officer – although in view of recent data breaches, the data security officer role is gaining prominence as well!

BICC and CAO Relationship

BICC leaders continuously struggle with business alignment, driving analytic maturity, increasing user adoption and showing business value. They often struggle to find an executive business sponsor, let alone an effective one. The reason is that in many organizations, there’s no clear ownership for analytics. Hence, the CAO could be the perfect executive business sponsor for business intelligence (BI).

So if you’re lucky enough to have one in your organization, embrace them and include them in your executive steering committee. The BICC leader and CAO should be allies. In fact, organizationally a BICC might very well be best placed reporting to the chief analytics officer.

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Related Blogs:

Part 1: BICC Series- The Key to Operationalizing Your BI Strategy
Part 2: BICC Basics – Models, Benefits and Challenges
Part 3: BI Roles, Skills & Responsibilities
Part 4: Guerilla Tactics for BICCs
Part 5: BICCs Up Your Analytics IQ
Part 6: BICC vs. BOE – What’s in a Name
BI Competency Centers Help “Big Data” Deliver Big Value