Questions from CDOs and CAOs: Getting harder as the game evolves


Boy playing football, compliments of PexelsWatching a football game for me is rough. While the rest of you enjoy watching the big game and the funny commercials, I’ll be getting grilled with questions from my 8-year-old who wants to know everything about everything. Picture three-plus hours of questions like: “How do you know when it’s an illegal formation?” As football evolves to accommodate new rules, explaining the game to newcomers keeps getting harder.

The same is true in the data and analytics space. Consider the complexities and related questions that arise around ever-evolving data and analytics landscapes, such as:

  • Data lakes. Should we use them, or not?
  • Streaming data and IOT. How do they fit with our current data and analytics solutions, skill sets, etc.?
  • Containers, blockchain and unstructured data. It's everywhere. How do we adapt to all the new techniques and data sources?
  • Artificial intelligence. The pressure is high to be up and running with AI on all fronts (by yesterday).

This environment has left many people with more questions than answers. Chief among those is how to capture and manage all the data that's now available – from more sources than ever – and meet the goals of increased revenue and operational efficiency. For many companies, this is where the role of chief data officers (CDOs) and chief analytics officers (CAOs) comes into play. These people create order out of complexity.

In past years, discussions about CDOs and CAOs related to topics like who they should report to, or what their ideal qualifications should be. In 2019, CDOs and CAOs are going from concept to reality in many organizations. In fact, as Gartner states: “It’s not difficult to see how, by 2021, the office of the CDO will be a mission-critical function comparable to IT, business operations, HR and finance in 75% of large enterprises.” As with any new and influential role, there is a feeling-out period in which the individual sits and listens and asks lots of questions. CDOs and CAOs are no different.

Common questions raised by CDOs and CAOs

At SAS, we're talking with CDOs and CAOs more than ever before. With solutions that include both data management and advanced analytics, organizations have been inquiring not only about what we deliver, but how organizations similar to them have been successful with those solutions.

To give some perspective on what is being asked, consider that CDOs/CAOs are at different phases in their role. Many are still in the “sit and listen stage” – while others are farther along and are engaging with software vendors about how specific technologies could help them attain their goals of revenue growth and operational efficiency. So, broken down by maturity level, here are some of the common questions we receive at SAS:

When a company shifts their operations from storing data to using data, they ask:

  • Is my organization using data assets to their fullest potential?
  • How do I influence the reach and scale of my impact across the organization to replicate our successes?
  • How do I maximize the value and impact of data across my organization? We have agreement on the need to change, but how?

When a company agrees about the need for change, but aren't sure how to do it, they ask:

  • How can I make sure every department gets engaged in the data and analytics program we want to establish?
  • How can I make sure we take full advantage of the data we have but don't fall victim to privacy regulations?
  • How can I make sure we have the IT infrastructure in place to become a data-driven company?
  • How do I develop the data and analytics culture my company needs?

When a company needs to invest in new technology, but it's not clear what all their considerations should be, they ask:

  • Do we have the skill level and talent to use the data management software?
  • Will the software vendor be able to work with our current data and architecture?
  • Will the vendor be able to offer data management and analytics on the same platform, so we can meet our top organizational goals without having to partner with numerous vendors?
  • Can this partner grow with me over the next 5 to 10 years?
  • Does this partner have demonstrated expertise in delivering value at similar businesses?

As you may have noticed, the questions range from broad to very pointed. And while there may not be a guide to help me teach my 8-year-old the latest and greatest rules of football, SAS has an e-book that can help CDOs and CAOs navigate the expectations of their position. The topics range from how to kick off data analytics projects to the role of data governance – and the e-book is loaded with customer examples and best practices.

I can’t promise that our e-book will explain what an illegal formation is, but it will give you a broad understanding of the CDO/CAO role and how others are managing at their organizations.

Get the e-book – learn how to build your data and analytics strategy

About Author

Todd Wright

Product Marketing Manager

Todd Wright leads Global Product Marketing for SAS Personal Data Protection and SAS Customer Intelligence solutions. He works closely with the product management and sales organizations to create and promote materials that are relevant and valuable to SAS customers. Wright has 14 years of experience in data management software, including sales and marketing positions at DataFlux and SAS. Wright is instrumental in developing customer relationships and creating strategic marketing plans that drive awareness, consideration, education and demand for SAS Data Management. He received his business degree in Marketing from Western Michigan University.

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