Posted on: March 11, 2021 | 2 min read

CDO vs. CAO: Which Position Supports Your Corporate Goals?

A clear business strategy that thrives on data-driven innovation is critical for an organization in 2021.

According to IDC, the five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2024 of the data created, captured, copied, and consumed in the world; the amount of data created over the next three years will be more than the data created over the past 30 years.

As data volume increases at staggering rates, enterprises elect new, formal positions within the C-Suite to lead the data and analytics initiatives. These roles most commonly include Chief Analytics Officers and Chief Data Officers.

The similarities and the differences between these two roles make it tricky for a company to decide which one to go with.

Here’s an exact comparison between the two.

The Duties of a Chief Analytics Officer

As the name suggests, a person who has a CAO position is a C-level Executive. This individual leads the analytical operations of an organization. They take the leadership role in the organization’s digital transformation and base all of their decisions on insights from the data they acquire.

In most cases, a CAO reports directly to the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Still, in some cases, they may report to the Chief Information Officer (CIO) as well. A CAO collects data that they can use to create data analytics and business intelligence models on a day-to-day basis. In some cases, a CAO might also be responsible for developing a data warehouse for a company’s information and defining strategy/roadmap of analytics.

The Duties of a Chief Data Officer

On the contrary, a Chief Data Officer is responsible for leading data management and data quality improvement initiatives. Additionally, it is not vital for a CDO to have technical data analytics skills. In comparison, a CAO must possess these skills. A Chief Data Officer manages data governance across a company since data is now considered an asset.

They do this with the help of data mining and processing. These procedures can help decision-makers evaluate what kind of data is worth utilizing and what should be ignored. The CDO position rose to popularity back in the 80s when technology companies realized the importance of data. While a CDO does not need to possess advanced analytics capabilities, they still may be familiar with the various open-source tools at their disposal.

What Makes Them Different

The difference between a CDO and CAO can be understood simply by the statement: a CDO manages data, and a CAO utilizes it. But it is also essential to understand that these two roles are not mutually exclusive. Companies use both of these executives differently, and on various occasions, they share responsibilities.

The CDO position is older, and in the last few years, companies have started to give the CAO position a lot more importance. AI-driven strategies are on the rise, and mere data management is not enough anymore.

Using Analytics to Bring Change

Recent research from Gartner shows that leaders considered big data one of the most important assets for their business worldwide. To improve business operations, managers apply insights acquired through data into almost every facet of their organization. These management analytics initiatives help companies overcome serious challenges. This transformation from brick-and-mortar opinion-based decision-making to data-driven judgments makes a company a strong business case for investors.  

That said, while analytics can clarify the objective you’re trying to achieve, it is imperative businesses have an ROI-focused approach that helps them secure their future.

Make recommendations for what your business needs by first understanding your maturity. Take our Data & Analytics Maturity assessment here!

Written by CCG, an organization in Tampa, Florida, that helps companies become more insights-driven, solve complex challenges and accelerate growth through industry-specific data and analytics solutions.

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