CIOs: say ‘ciao’ to the CAO

According to an Australian analytics institute, CAOs (chief analytics officers) will soon be taking a place at the boardroom table alongside CIOs. Rodney Gedda outlines the emerging role

The CAO (chief analytics officer) is a highly skilled individual who understands the importance of technology, information and how the two can combine to improve business marketing and performance, says Marcel van Rooyen, media liaison officer of the Institute of Analytics Professionals of Australia (IAPA).

An advisory manager for consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, Van Rooyen says business analysts are ideal candidates to fill the technology and business “hybrid” role because they have acquired the necessary skills mix.

“In ten years we will see chief analytics officers on boards bridging the role of the CIO (chief information officer) and CMO (chief marketing officer),” Van Rooyen says.

“The core competencies of both will merge to form the CAO because we are the most strategically placed to plug the gap.”

He believes there is a lot of unrealised potential in bringing IT and business together through analytics.

Online encyclopedia Wikipedia defines the CAO role as “a senior manager responsible for the analysis of data” and says the position is “similar” to the CIO but with an increased focus on “generating and analysing information” rather than “maintaining and communicating information”. It is a role that focuses on providing input into operational decisions on the basis of analysis.

The Australian analytics institute’s message to IT is that there is more information to be analysed than senior management knows about now.

“IT people are gatekeepers and aren’t [necessarily] aware of what can be done with data — they often say it’s too messy,” Van Rooyen says. “By doing more analytics, they will promote their political importance in the organisation [and] it will be easier for IT to convince management to spend money on projects.”

IDC Australia’s senior IT management analyst Peter Hind says although he likes the idea of a CAO, “as it highlights the problem solving and re-engineering capabilities of IT”, he doubts that it will supersede the “moniker of CIO” as the favoured title for the head of IT.

“Analytics implies a process, albeit one that helps with problem solving.

“As such, chief analytics officer sounds a bit nebulous,” Hind says.

“Perhaps we might see the emergence of the title CPSO: chief problem solving officer.”

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More about IDC AustraliaInstitute of Analytics Professionals of Australia (IAPA)PricewaterhouseCoopersWikipedia

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