CDAO Community Pulse on Talent Strategy

October 2023

During this period of economic instability and workplace disruption, the world’s leading organizations are relying on advanced data and analytics capabilities - powered by highly skilled talent - to optimize processes, improve efficiencies, and reduce operational costs. At the same time however, our CDAO communities continually express how difficult it is to source, recruit and retain the talent necessary to transform their businesses, especially with new opportunities presented by generative AI.

With talent being such a hot topic at our community gatherings, we asked data and analytics leaders in our CDAO communities how these latest disruptions are influencing their talent strategies. Here is what approximately 150 CDAOs had to say about their ability to hire and retain a skilled workforce and what their talent approach is for the years ahead.

Are Skilled Roles Hard to Fill?

Almost half of data and analytics leaders - 44% - cited that it is more difficult to fill skilled roles than in years past. Thirty-six percent stated that effort has been about the same, and 20% say skilled positions are not hard to fill compared to years past.

Is Recruiting a Challenge?

A staggering 91% of CDOs and CDAOs reported recruiting skilled workers as either “somewhat challenging” or “very challenging,” and only 9% said that recruiting is not challenging.

Is Retention a Challenge?

Retention is slightly less arduous than recruiting for data and analytics leaders, with 80% of respondents citing retaining skilled workers as either “somewhat challenging” or “very challenging.” Twenty percent say retention is not challenging for them.

What’s Impacting the Strategy?

Regarding factors impacting their current workforce strategy, data and analytics leaders reported that a lack of resources and a need for specific skills are their top two concerns, with 30% and 29% of respondents respectively. Twenty-three percent said workplace policies, such as return to office, affected their strategy, 15% stated demographics or general lack of available talent, and 3% selected “other.”

In the “other” comments, one CDAO said that stopping remote hiring has had an impact on their talent outlook. Another shared that they need to revamp their retention strategies to hold on to proven tech leaders.

What Are the Focus Areas?

When asked about the efforts comprising their organization’s talent strategy, nearly a quarter of CDAOs and CDOs - 23% - reported upskilling or reskilling as one of their approaches. The rest of the results were mixed with 17% focusing on retention of key roles, 16% hiring remote workers, 15% outsourcing or hiring contract roles, 14% focusing on internal promotions, and 2% selected “other.” 

In the comments, some shared they are leaning into “referrals from current employees,” “starting internship or job programs,” and “hiring remote for hard-to-fill skills only.”

Can They Upskill the Workforce?

As the technological environment rapidly changes, especially with developments in AI, we asked them how they feel about their ability to upskill and reskill the workforce. More than half - 56% - are optimistic, and they said they are either “somewhat confident” or “very confident” in their abilities. A quarter of respondents - 25% - are neutral, and 15% said they are “not confident.” Only 4% shared that they do not have a strategy to upskill or reskill the workforce.

What are CDAOs’ Forward Looking Talent Strategies?

Over the past few years, organizations have undergone many phases of workforce and talent disruption, from The Great Resignation and Race for Talent to economic uncertainty and generative AI. We surveyed our CDAO communities during each stage, which have had a profound impact on their ability to recruit and retain necessary staff.

In this environment, we asked what their forward-looking talent strategies are, and upskilling, looking to new, trainable talent, and providing flexibility were overall themes. Here are a sample of their responses:

We use consultants for technical roles, retain internal talent (knowledge) with proper career paths, and upskill in areas where there are gaps.”

The preference is to train existing staff with new skills. The challenge is that many are not interested in learning new skills and would rather be more hands-on, technical.”

We are supporting all three work styles (in-person, hybrid and fully remote) both for existing staff and new positions. In addition, we are conducting market salary reviews more often to ensure we stay competitive in the market. Another aspect is listening and looking for different ways we can help employees make connections.”

We focus on apprentices. They are stickier than graduates who seem impossible to keep and are being offered unrealistic salaries elsewhere. We’re also looking at re-training existing employees and career changers - trying to understand if there is an untapped workforce out there that isn't in their early careers or super-experienced, highly-sought-after and expensive.”

If you are a data and analytics leader navigating the ever-evolving talent landscape, apply to join your CDAO community and experience the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded peers on these mission critical priorities.


Based on 150 CDO and CDAO responses to Evanta’s Community Pulse Survey, June 2023.


by CDAOs, for CDAOs

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