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Chief Data Scientist Seen as Bridging CTO to Business Managers 

On the organization chart, the Chief Data Scientist is seen as helping to bridge the CTO to business managers, while pursuing data science best practices internally. (Credit: Getty Images) 

By AI Trends Staff 

The role of the Chief Data Scientist is needed to help the Chief Technology Officer bridge to business managers who are defining how AI is to deliver on the company’s business strategy.  

The required amount of guidance and monitoring of data scientists is not likely to happen from the CTO’s office, suggest experts.   

Ira Cohen, Cofounder, Chief Data Scientist, Anodot

“You need a Chief Data Scientist to bridge the gap between management and the data scientists, to help explain what machine learning can do and cannot do,” stated Ira Cohen, cofounder and chief data officer of Anodot, a data analytics company that uses AI and machine learning, in an account from Analytics Insight. “You need somebody who understands what it is in a deeper form than a CTO, who might have a broader knowledge of a lot of things, but not necessarily machine learning.” 

Business departments can have data silos that could present obstacles or challenges to getting the data required to make needed machine models work.  

Specialist roles that span different parts of the analytics process as well as different specialties within data science have emerged. However, many of the people in these roles are either relatively junior or are experienced but primarily interested in the technical execution of projects, as opposed to worrying about staffing issues, budget planning, and corporate politics, suggests a recent account from the International Institute for Analytics.   

Executives set the priorities and make the call as to what analytics are most needed, and the hands-on technical analysts handle gathering data, coding, and delivering the analytics. “In between these organization chart extremes, organizations need to consider adding one more role to their team.”   

Bill Franks, Chief Analytics Officer, IIA

“The early generations of analytics and data science executives were people who had technical backgrounds with substantial coding and model building experience,” stated Bill Franks, chief analytics officer with IIA, author of the account. “In today’s world, management skills and a strategic viewpoint are at least as important as technical skill, if not more important, for an analytics executive. This is due to the size, scale, and broad reach of today’s analytics and data science organizations within large companies.”  

The names for this new leader that combines technical experience and a strategic business viewpoint is the Chief Data Scientist, the author suggests.  

The profile of the Chief Data Scientist is someone with experience and success in building and deploying models. Senior in tenure, the Chief Data Scientist prefers to remain hands-on and involved with execution, as opposed to moving up in the management ranks. “As one of the most skilled technical resources in the organization, a Chief Data Scientist can play the critical role of ensuring that the organization’s analytics and data science strategy is effectively translated into tactical execution at the lower levels of the organization,” states the author.   

The Chief Data Scientist serves as a translator who bridges strategy and execution within the analytics organization, unlike an analytical translator who serves as a bridge between business stakeholders and the analytics organization, the author suggests. He compared the relationship to that of a CIO and a CTO, The CTO keeps up with the latest tech trends and drives innovation, while the CIO deals with corporate politics and drives the IT strategy.  


Chief Data Officer Seen Overseeing Data Governance 

Some organizations employ a chief data officer, responsible for data governance across the organization. The chief data officer may oversee a range of functions including data management, ensuring data quality and creating a data strategy. Some data management functions may belong to a chief analytics officer, a title some view as interchangeable with chief data officer.   

Caroline Carruthers, Director, Carruthers and Jackson consultants

“The chief data officer is the senior person, with a business focus, who understands the strategy and direction of the business, but their focus is on how to underpin that with data,” stated Caroline Carruthers, director at consulting firm Carruthers and Jackson, former chief data officer of Network Rail, in a recent account in CIO. Carruthers is also co-author of The Chief Data Officer’s Playbook and Data-Driven Business Transformation: How to Disrupt, Innovate and Stay Ahead of the Competition.  

Some CIOs and CTOs may see the creation of a chief data officer as encroachment on their turf. Carruthers begs to differ. “The difference between the CDO and CIO in my mind is quite clear, and I often use the analogy of the bucket and the water,” Carruthers stated. “The chief information officer is responsible for the bucket. They’re responsible for making sure that the bucket is the right size, that there are no holes in it, that it’s safe, and that it’s in the right place. The chief data officer is responsible for the fluid that goes in the bucket, comes out of the bucket, that it goes to the right place, that it’s the right quality and the right fluid to start with. Neither the bucket nor the water work without each other.” 

One consultant argues that the chief data officer and chief analytics officer are distinct roles, but they should be taken on by the same person.  

“I’m finding the best in class are combining the two,” stated Guy Gomis, partner at the recruiting company BrainWorks. “Most leaders in analytics want to own the data strategy and how the company treats data, and they want to own analytics. The best practice is having a chief data strategy and analytics officer who owns both data and analytics and works closely with the CIO.” 

Back to the Chief Data Scientist role, the average salary is $122,519 as of this week, according to LinkedIn. The site does not offer the titles of chief data officer or chief analytics officer on their drop-down list of titles.  

According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary this week for a Chief Data Scientists in the US is $214,722. The market is active, with most jobs in Mountain View, San Francisco and Fremont, Calif.  

Read the source articles and information in Analytics Insight,  from the International Institute for Analytics, CIO, LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter. 

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