Definition

chief analytics officer

Contributor(s): Nicole Laskowski

The chief analytics officer (CAO) is a C-level position responsible for data analysis within an organization.

The main instigator for the CAO role is the growing importance data is having on organizations. As they digitize everything from customer interactions to business processes, business are also producing and accumulating more data. The CAO's main purpose is to lead an organization that gleans value out of the data, treats data as an asset and elevates analytics to a strategic level across the organization.

The CAO position is often regarded as a variant of the chief data officer position (CDO), as businesses looking to introduce an executive position for data would likely employ one or the other, but not both. Also, like the CDO role, the CAO position is often described as a bifurcation of the chief information officer (CIO) role, with the CAO responsible for the data and the CIO responsible for the infrastructure.

CAO job qualifications and responsibilities

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Since the chief analytics officer role has not yet entered the mainstream, there are no general qualifications for CAOs. Many analytics officers have advanced degrees in statistics, economics, engineering, computer science or mathematics, but there is no universal education path. For example, Jesse Harriott, Chief Analytics Officer at Constant Contact, has a Ph.D. in psychology. There is also no concrete career trajectory for the CAO. Many were analysts, but some dabbled in informatics, engineering roles, research jobs and consulting.

As for responsibilities, the CAO is tasked with using data to fulfill business intelligence initiatives, improve operational effectiveness and generate revenue. To do so, CAOs utilize web analytics tools, data warehouse architecture and predictive analytics methods to make educated decisions. CAO duties vary from company to company based on need.

Chief analytics officers enter the enterprise

Many companies spanning a wide range of industries are hiring chief analytics officers to deal with the influx of data and make data-driven business decisions. Notable CAOs include Dr. Amen Ra Masharik, Chief Analytics Officer for the City of New York (appointed November 2014), Jesse Harriott, Chief Analytics Officer at Constant Contact (appointed in 2012), Bill Franks, Chief Analytics Officer at Teradata (appointed July 2013), and Paul Ballew, Global Chief Data and Analytic Officer at Ford Motor Company (appointed January 2015).

This was last updated in August 2015

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Will the chief analytics officer replace any current C-level leadership positions?
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