As many Chief Data Officers (CDOs) and Chief Analytics Officers (CAOs) would probably attest, selling the value of data and analytics to everyone in the organisation is a tall order. Many appreciate its importance, as it relates to decision-making, but the level of engagement that the internal workforce would generally exemplify is normally far less than ideal. The job of being immersed and fully responsible with data is often relegated to CDOs and CAOs – that is, if they have one in the first place.
As it is often said, no one has a monopoly on good ideas and in our interview with Joe DeCosmo, Chief Analytics Officer at Enova International and a member of the CAO Forum Global Advisory Board, he shared an effective strategy to get your peers to engage with data and analytics. He also explained why, in the future, the CAO role will become as critical to business success as the COO or CFO.
CAO Forum: In what ways have Big Data and analytics already impacted the industry that you work in?
Joe DeCosmo: Our industry, online lending and financial services, was borne out of big data and deep, predictive analytics. Our ability to drive profitable growth in our existing products and markets, while launching new ones, depends entirely on our ability to apply real-time analytics to combine an easy, seamless online customer experience with optimized underwriting and lending decisions.
CAO Forum: In your opinion, do people, in general, in your organization appreciate the value of analytics? Please share with us your experience.
Joe DeCosmo: I am incredibly fortunate to work at Enova where analytics and data-driven decision-making is in our DNA. As I tell my colleagues, everyone is an analyst here at Enova! Every corner of the company understands the value of data and advanced, predictive analytics, and we’re constantly finding new ways to “move a needle” using analytics.
CAO Forum: What strategies are you implementing to encourage your internal workforce to engage with analytics?
Joe DeCosmo: One of our core company values is “Best Answer Wins,” which means that anyone in the organization – from intern to C-suite – can push a business idea forward. We live our values every day and make sure that folks understand them from the day they arrive at Enova. If it’s backed up by data and analytics, it will get done!
CAO Forum: How would you describe the role of a Chief Analytics Officer?
Joe DeCosmo: We have a big analytics team here at Enova – 51 folks in all – so my role is to make sure we have the right mix of resources and the right priorities to continue to drive growth across all of our products and geographies. While I don’t write code or build models anymore, I make sure that we’re working on the right stuff to drive our business forward. Employee development and retention is also a critical part of this, so I make sure that we’re investing in our team and challenging everyone to have a big impact and do their best work.
“Best Answer Wins,” which means that anyone in the organization – from intern to C-suite – can push a business idea forward. If it’s backed up by data and analytics, it will get done!
CAO Forum: What would you consider as the biggest challenge faced by Chief Analytics Officers (CAO) today?
Joe DeCosmo: I think the biggest challenge is staying focused amid new technologies, data, and demand for analytics. Being able to prioritize your team’s activities on the most important, value-add solutions and not being distracted by the latest article or “shiny object” is critical to success. The demand for analytics has never been higher across all aspects of business, so the key is being able to separate the truly important and impactful from the attention-grabbing or newsworthy activities – all while ensuring employees are engaged with interesting work.
CAO Forum: How do you see the role of Chief Analytics Officer evolving in the next 3-5 years?
Joe DeCosmo: The evolution I see is the continuing realization of the importance of analytics across the enterprise, in virtually all industries. From heavy industry to retail to non-profits, all businesses are becoming more “digital,” so the opportunities to gather data and apply advanced analytics to answer critical business questions will continue to grow. More companies will name a Chief Analytics Officer, and they will gain a permanent seat at the executive table. I think the CAO role will become as critical to business success as the COO or CFO – it’s not a passing fad.
Want to find out more? Join us at Chief Analytics Officer Europe this April to discover the latest trends in business analytics, AI, machine learning and big data.