“At this point, there are only two kinds of companies: Those who know their data has been hacked and those who don’t know it yet,” says Peter Metzger, vice chairman of executive search giant CT Partners (formerly Christian & Timbers).
He’s only half joking. In his 20 years in the headhunting business, Metzger adds, “I’ve never seen anything like the demand we’re seeing now for executives with cybersecurity expertise, who are also able to explain the technology so shareholders and boards of directors can understand it.”
With a new data breach making headlines almost daily, that’s hardly surprising, but Metzger points out that the stakes keep climbing. “Ten years ago, the cost of the average data-loss incident was $4.5 million. Now, it’s at $10 million, and rising,” he says. “So shareholders and boards are paying attention, and demand is white-hot.”
Watch more about what companies can do after being hacked from Fortune’s video team:
Thinking of making a career move? Managers with any data-privacy or security-technology experience “should make every effort to get into this field,” Metzger says.
According to CT Partners’ annual study of the hottest executive jobs, which covers a broad range of senior roles from health care to Wall Street, this should be a pretty good year for marketing executives, too—especially those who have figured out how to interpret huge volumes of data and use the numbers to win and keep customers.
They’re still relatively few. “A chief marketing officer used to be the ‘idea guy’ with the big concepts” who left the details to others, notes Derek Creevey, CT Partners’ chief marketing officer. “Now, companies want CMOs who are part mathematician, part politician, and part magician. These are people who know how to use data analytics to design marketing plans and measure performance across multiple platforms, especially social media.”
If you’re an old-school marketer unsure of what to do with the heaps of customer data you have at hand, how do you get up to speed? “Unfortunately, there’s no textbook,” Creevey says. “The most effective way to learn is by trial and error. Take some risks. Try an online campaign, or a Twitter campaign, based on what you think the data are telling you about your customers, and keep tweaking it until you see what works.”
The CT Partners report suggests that the use of big data is changing every senior-management job. Take, for instance, human resources. “The head of HR used to be a person with benefits or ‘personnel’ experience who moved up,” notes Peter Metzger.
Now, with more regulation, more litigation, a global workforce, and the push for diversity in the U.S., he’s seeing more companies in search of a chief human resources officer who can use data analysis to make broad policy decisions, and who works much more closely than before with the CEO and the board. “The CHRO now has to be a strategic partner and sounding-board for the CEO,” says Metzger. “It’s becoming a much more complex job.”
By CT Partners’ lights, just about every senior manager will be under more pressure, and will come under more scrutiny, in the year ahead. “Even executives who aren’t thinking about changing jobs need to get conversant with data analysis and consider the data-security aspects of everything they do,” just to hold on to their current positions, notes Derek Creevey. “Things are moving very fast.”