4 Highlights from our CDAO Survey on Talent Strategy

Community Blog
Written by Megan Woodruff

NOVEMBER 21, 2023

Since the start of this year, high inflation, economic uncertainty and advancements in generative AI have challenged our CDAO communities to think outside the box to drive business value. To keep pace with a rapidly evolving landscape organizations need highly-skilled talent; but inversely, these disruptions significantly impact their ability to hire and retain a skilled workforce.

Although topics such as data governance, a data-driven culture and data democratization are  top priorities for CDAOs, talent challenges have been a common thread across many of the discussions held at our community gatherings. In our latest Community Pulse Survey, we asked 150 CDAOs about the implications current disruptions are having on the workforce and their planned talent strategies for the year ahead.

Here are four highlights from the results of our survey.

1. Skilled Roles are Harder to Fill

We asked data and analytics leaders if filling skilled roles seems harder than in years past, and 44% said “yes.” Thirty-six of respondents said the effort is about the same, and 20% said it is not harder to fill open positions today.

In the comments, one CDAO added, “Plan ahead. It takes a long time to find the right resource. If you need someone in 6 months, start searching today.”

2. Recruiting vs. Retaining Employees

Recruiting is an uphill battle for CDAOs, with 55% reporting it as “somewhat challenging” and another 36% saying it is currently “very challenging.” Only 9% said recruiting is “not challenging.”

Data and analytics leaders report retention as slightly less difficult, with 63% saying it is “somewhat challenging” and 17% citing it as “very challenging.” Twenty percent of respondents say it is “not challenging.”

3. A Key Focus Area: Upskilling or Reskilling

CDAOs are diligent in their efforts to fulfill their talent needs, and they are utilizing numerous strategies to ensure their teams are properly staffed and encompass necessary skills for the future. Almost a quarter of respondents - 23% - say they are upskilling or reskilling their workforce. Seventeen percent of respondents are focusing on retention of key roles, 16% are hiring remote workers to fill gaps and 15% are outsourcing projects or hiring contract roles.

Because upskilling has become a hot topic among D&A leaders this year, we asked about their ability to upskill or reskill the workforce. More than half of CDAOs - 56% - have a positive outlook, stating they are either “somewhat confident” or “very confident” in their potential. A quarter of respondents - 25% - are neutral, 15% are “not confident” and only 4% shared they do not have a strategy to upskill or reskill the workforce.

4. What’s Impacting CDAOs’ Talent Strategy?

When we asked CDAOs about the factors impacting their talent strategy, 30% cited a lack of resources or budget constraints, and coming in at a close second, 29% said it is a need for specific skill sets. Twenty-three percent of data leaders believe workplace policies, such as return-to-office mandates, are having an effect on their ability to recruit and retain employees, and 15% attribute it to a general lack of available talent.

Compared to the other C-level communities we surveyed, CDAOs mentioned budget constraints as a factor impacting their talent efforts at higher rates. One data leader commented, “Every time we've attempted to have a talent strategy, it takes a back seat to budget issues and below expected quarterly numbers. I have little faith that organizationally we're thinking about this strategically, and it's going to be a problem long-term.”

CDAOs’ Forward-Looking Talent Strategies

At the end of the survey, we asked CDAOs to describe how current disruptions may be influencing their talent strategies and to outline their forward-looking approach. Across the board, investing in upskilling and improving company culture to retain employees were key themes.

Here is a sample of their responses:

Continue the investment in internal skill-building and retention, and hire externally when necessary.”

Looking to grow the team with qualified but relatively low cost resources. Upskill for generative AI and other AI. Encourage and support employees to pursue certifications.”

Focus on culture and talent retention more than anything else. Most companies essentially offer the same pay and benefits. It's the culture that will keep people choosing to work for your company every single day.”

Demonstrate commitment to the talent. That means offering flexibility, autonomy, and the opportunity to work on interesting things and continued learning opportunities.”

If you find insights like this valuable, find an Evanta CDAO community near you and apply to join. We have a robust calendar of executive programs and gatherings, so you can also explore an upcoming opportunity to get together and collaborate with your CDAO peers. 

Megan Woodruff headshot

Megan Woodruff

Associate Content Director at Evanta, a Gartner Company

by CDAOs, for CDAOs

Join the conversation with peers in your local CDAO community.