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Data Leaders Not Providing Enough Value to Their Companies

Data Leaders Not Providing Enough Value to Their Companies

March 23, 2023
The top roadblock to proving value was skills and staff shortages, according to a new Gartner survey.

While data is essential to running a good business, it seems that its leaders, referred to as data and analytics (D&A) leaders, need to improve their value to their organizations. A recent Gartner survey found that just  (44%) reported that their team is effective in providing value to their organization.

“D&A is in the business of driving stakeholder value,” said Donna Medeiros, Senior Director Analyst, at Gartner. “The most successful CDAOs are outperforming their peers by projecting an executive presence and building an agile and strategic D&A function that shapes data-driven business performance and operational excellence.”

The survey was conducted online from September through November 2022 among 566 D&A leaders globally.

Successful CDAOs Project Executive Presence

The survey found that D&A leaders rated themselves as “effective” or “very effective” across 17 different executive leadership traits correlated with those reporting high organizational and team performance. For example, 43% of top-performing D&A leaders reported effectiveness in committing time to their own professional development, compared with 19% of low performers.

“Successful CDAOs must be elite leaders,” said Alan Duncan, Distinguished VP Analyst, Gartner. “Top-performing CDAOs invest in their success by developing skills to thrive in ambiguous circumstances, articulate compelling value stories, and identify D&A products and services that can drive business impact.”

CDAOs Must be Persistent to Meet New Demands

The survey found that CDAOs are tasked with a broad range of responsibilities, including defining and implementing D&A strategy (60%), oversight of D&A strategy (59%), creating and implementing D&A governance (55%) and managing data-driven culture change (54%).

Furthermore, many D&A functions are receiving increased investment, including data management (65%), data governance (63%) and advanced analytics (60%). The mean reported D&A budget is $5.41 million, and 44% of D&A teams increased in size in the last year.

“The demands being placed upon D&A, as well as increased investment, reflect a growing confidence in CDAOs’ abilities and recognition of the data office as an indispensable business function,” said Medeiros. “However, this leads to more work as pressure grows for D&A to achieve tangible business results.”

Given the scope and complexity of demands being placed on D&A teams, the lack of available talent has quickly become a top impediment to D&A success, as reported by 39% of respondents.

The top six roadblocks to D&A reported in the survey are all human-related challenges are as follows:

  • Skills and staff shortages (39%)
  • Lack of resources and funding to support the programs (29%)
  • Culture challenges to accept change ( 26%)
  • Lack of business stakeholder involvement and support ( 26%)
  • Not enough authority to execute the CDAO responsibilities ( 24%)
  • Poor data literacy ( 23%)

To build an effective D&A team, CDAOs must have a robust talent management strategy that goes beyond hiring ready-made talent. This should include education, training, and coaching for data-driven culture and data literacy, both within the core D&A team and the broader business and technology communities.

D&A Performance Must Tie to Business Strategy

The survey found that 78% of respondents rank corporate or organizational strategy and vision as one of the top three inputs to the D&A strategy. Additionally, 68% are prioritizing D&A initiatives based on alignment with strategic goals.

“CDAOs who prioritize strategy over tactics are the most successful,” said Duncan. “Because the CDAO serves multiple stakeholders across the business, they must align with organizational strategic priorities and focus on selling the D&A vision to the CEO, CIO and CFO as key influencers.”