McKinsey & Company recently took a fresh look at the role of the chief analytics officer, how it’s evolved, and what the future looks like for this increasingly common C-Level position.

The article, titled Rebooting Analytics Leadership: Time to Move Beyond the Math, states, “AI and other advanced analytics will unlock $9.5 trillion to $15.4 trillion annually, with recent AI advances such as deep learning alone making up nearly 40 percent of the total.”

For data analytics executives, and the Chief Analytics Officer role in particular, the pressure is on to “deploy and scale” artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics.

According to the McKinsey article, this increasing pressure is forcing data analytics leaders to take on the role of “catalyst” to bring about true change across the company. In a world where scaling AI quickly is a requirement, today’s CAOs must lead the charge. This spans beyond simply implementing data analytics and AI to navigating data privacy and regulation and bringing an often siloed organization together—both from a data and a people perspective.

Below are the new ways CAOs are getting the job done in an increasingly complex business environment:

1. Convening a coalition of equals

Recognizing that data analytics can both transform internal processes and create new offers, success for the new CAO requires collaboration with other members of the C-Suite—mainly business and IT. With this “tri-headed coalition of equals” in place, CAOs are better able to generate business value for the company and communicate results among fellow members of the C-Suite, including the CEO.

2. Building an enterprise capability

Cutting-edge CAOs also work with their business and IT leaders to ensure data-driven decision making and a culture of data within the company. This includes everything from collaborating on talent strategy and internal team building to working on IT strategies and data compliance.

3. Integrating advanced analytics into the workflow

Impacting operational change is perhaps one of the biggest areas CAOs are expected to excel in today. This includes “embedding” advanced analytics into the organization and identifying new data sources to improve processes or the way people work.

4. Acting as a change agent

As the term catalyst suggests, today’s CAOs must bring about change within the organization, demanding top-notch communication and relationship-building skills. Effective analytics leaders use a range of tools to communicate, including town halls, one-on-ones, and monthly meetings.

5. Advising their boards and CEOs

While educating employees across the organization is critical, this does not end inside the walls of the company. Increasingly, boards are benefiting from knowing how data analytics are impacting the overall business and future growth, including how new opportunities for data monetization can drive new revenue.

To learn more, including steps CAOs can take to succeed, read the full McKinsey & Company article here.

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