Chief Analytics Officer Vs Chief Data Officer: What’s The Difference?

chief analytics officer data officer

Data executives are essential for a clear business strategy research as data-driven innovation has been critical for many years now. Of all the C-Level executives, there are only a few positions that deal with data. Two of the most popular ones include chief analytics officer, aka. Head of analytics, and chief data officer. But what is the fundamental difference between the two job roles?

In this article, we will compare the two and bring out similarities and differences.

Role Of A Chief Analytics Officer 

Chief analytics officer as a name suggests is a senior manager, which is responsible for the analytics operations within a company. The designation may also be known as the head of analytics, or chief analytics officer (CAO) is a fast-rising job role among senior-level management within companies. 

A chief analytics officer is responsible for digital transformation by making decisions based on the insights obtained from data, which is backed by data science techniques. While in most cases, chief analytics officers report directly to the CEO, it may not be the case, and head of analytics in many cases report to either chief information officers (CIOs) as well. 

Day-to-day activities of the head of analytics/chief analytics officer include collecting data and using it to create business intelligence models. Chief analytics officers also interact with chief information officers in regard to the infrastructure needed for analytics operations. So, their focus is on creating business-oriented decisions by using the data that is available within an organisation, whether that data is from marketing, sales, and other operations. 

CAOs also develop data warehouses as a central repository for all information within a company as well as formula data governance and management frameworks. Reporting and visualisation tools may also be led by chief analytics officers.

Role Of A Chief Data Officer 

Contrarily, a chief data officer (CDO) is a technology leadership role in regard to data management and working on data quality in data processes. Besides, CDOs may not necessarily possess data science skills, which with chief analytics officers or chief data scientist in the executive suite certainly do. 

A chief data officer (CDO) manages the governance and management of data across an enterprise as an asset through data processing and mining. CDOs determine what types of data businesses will opt to acquire, retain and utilise for business objectives. CDO saw the rise to senior management during the 80s when technology firms recognised the importance of master data management and data processing is a core part of business operations. 

Chief data officers ensure that data processes are running and effective data management is in place to achieve business goals. CDOs report to CEOs and work alongside different departments like marketing and sales. 

While a CDO may not necessarily be equipped with advanced analytics or any other techniques, they may be familiar with analytics, and the various open-source tools available today. At the same time, in some company, CDOs are directly responsible for analytics functions too. In addition, CDOs also look over data management storage and other IT related tasks that are usually handled by CIOs.

The Difference 

The difference between a chief data officer (CDO) and chief analytics officer (CAO) is between managing data (in case of CDO) and leading data analytics (in case of CAO) which are two different functions even though the two positions may be used interchangeably.

If we look back, the chief data officer is an older position in the overall enterprise space and existed prior to the coming of the chief analytics officer. In the recent past, many companies have combined the two functions or the two job roles in one because of the overlap. As companies are moving from data-driven strategies to analytics and AI-driven strategies, the focus has increased on analytics and not just data management. 

Compared to chief analytics officers, CDOs may have a better understanding of business management as they become solution architects that can build processes, which can impact the business outcomes. This is much like a chief information officer or chief digital officer. While chief analytics officers derive insights from data, CDO should focus on driving the maximum value from data.

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Vishal Chawla
Vishal Chawla is a senior tech journalist at Analytics India Magazine and writes about AI, data analytics, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and blockchain. Vishal also hosts AIM's video podcast called Simulated Reality- featuring tech leaders, AI experts, and innovative startups of India.

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