Are CDAOs Feeling the Talent Shortage?

Comunity Blog
Written by Megan Woodruff

AUGUST 25, 2022

Across our Evanta communities, we keep hearing about an overarching challenge affecting the C-suite — the talent shortage. Chief data officers, in particular, have been struggling with this, as the skills gap for data and analytics professionals continues to grow. 

Although data governance and data-driven culture are their top priorities this year, Evanta’s CDAO communities ensured the talent crisis was on our Executive Summit agendas so they could connect with their peers on this seemingly perpetual issue. In fact, one of the most interactive sessions this spring came from our New York CDAO Executive Summit, entitled, "Putting People First — Winning the War for Talent."

According to Gartner, “CDAOs who actively address talent shortages, change management and data literacy are accelerating their success, pulling ahead of their peers.” And so, we wanted to get better insight into how CDAOs in our Evanta communities are experiencing and addressing the talent shortage at their organizations. Here are four key findings from our survey about the current talent landscape.

1. Are data and analytics leaders experiencing a shortage of skilled workers?

The majority of CDAOs we surveyed expressed a need to staff up, with 63% indicating that their organization has more open positions now than in years’ past. Twenty-two percent report that their current level of open roles is typical of past years and 15% stated that they do not have more open positions than in past years. 

When we asked what they attributed their talent challenges to, the top responses were the evolution of the new world of work (63%) and the supply and demand for workers being out of balance (53%). One CDAO commented, “With the change in flexible work environments, more remote work, etc., I am now in direct competition for talent with other companies who aren't even in my markets.” Another shared, “Every candidate that we interview has multiple offers. It’s very difficult to be aggressive and still stay within my budget.”

2. Will the talent crisis be a long-term issue?

Data and analytics leaders do not have a definitive answer when it comes to how long they believe the talent shortage will last. Thirty-four percent think it “will remain this way for the foreseeable future,” while 26% believe it will last for 12 months or more. In contrast, one-third of respondents do not believe this will be a long-term issue, and think it will end within the year.


3. What if there’s a recession?

With talks of a recession happening this year, we were curious to know how CDAOs think this might affect their talent outlook. Almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents said, “the talent shortage will still be an issue if a recession is formally declared.”

Seventeen percent of data and analytics leaders said the talent shortage will no longer be an issue in a recession and 20% indicated they are not sure. One CDAO expressed how a recession could even help his organization, saying, “We are in for a long-term recession in 2023. Unemployment will rise. This is when we will begin our search for our first-pick talent choices.”

4. What are CDAOs doing to attract and retain employees?

Senior data and analytics leaders indicated that they are amplifying their recruitment strategies compared to last fall, when we surveyed them about their response to the Great Resignation. The vast majority (86%) are offering flexible and remote work environments, compared to just 61% of CDAOs who said this last year. Additionally, 78% are promoting company culture and employee engagement, up from 70% last year.

One CDAO noted drivers for the current talent pool, commenting, “People are being driven by different factors now than in the past. Less about pay and much more about flexibility, growth opportunities and leaving poor leadership.” Another shared how company culture is critical to his organization’s efforts, stating, “A key focus of our recruitment and talent acquisition program is on joining a purposeful organization.”

CDAO’s are also doubling down on their retention efforts compared to what we learned last fall, and they’re focusing on three key strategies: offering more flexibility (69%), reviewing compensation and benefits (68%) and examining promotion paths and rates (66%). Last year, less than 50% of CDAOs were engaging in these retention strategies.

Overall, CDAOs seem to think there’s more to the race for talent than a trend. These are some of their comments from the survey: 

The demand for data talent has grown continuously for at least the past 13 years. With the ongoing growth of data uses, I expect demand to continue to grow.”

In the data and AI world, business transformation and a change to the employer-employee dynamic is really making things interesting.”

To learn more about the survey results, check out the infographic, or you can connect with like-minded C-level executives on mission critical topics, such as talent, at one of our upcoming gatherings.

Megan Woodruff headshot

Megan Woodruff

Associate Content Director at Evanta, a Gartner Company

by CDAOs, for CDAOs

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