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Lack of big data talent hampers corporate analytics

Clint Boulton | Dec. 10, 2015
Businesses continue to struggle with hiring the talented data scientists they need to manipulate their corporate data for insights, according to new research from consultant A.T. Kearney.

Khan says analytics workers for one client were spending 80 percent of their time "chasing data down and then cleaning it up." He recommended the company replace over half of its analytics talent because leveraging that data for business value with the existing staff was a "bridge too far." The leaders in the study say they have figured out how to make sure their talent leaves the greatest impact on their firms. The rest are still playing catch-up or trying to figure out where to start," he says.

How to track down analytics talent

Khan says leading companies are employing four strategies to lure and retain the right talent:

  • Build a unique digital and analytics brand. Leading firms are much less likely than laggards to hire experienced professionals, opting to groom talent from within or snare talent straight out of college to forge their own analytics brand. Given enough time to grow, these junior hires can be taught the skills necessary for their company’s business and industry. In return they are provided a progressive career path forward.
  • Embrace rotational programs. Some firms rotate talent through different business silos, enabling employees to combine their analytical knowledge with domain knowledge to gain a stronger understanding of the impact of actionable insights on corporate decision making.
  • Use cross-disciplinary teams to embed analytics. Other organizations designate analytics SWAT teams that work closely with business lines to embed analytics knowledge across an organization while giving the analytics talent key domain knowledge. Leaders focus on developing formal training programs, and consider center-of-excellence and shared-service models to stay abreast of emerging technologies and techniques.
  • Build industry-university partnerships. Establishing partnerships with universities is a smart way to groom the talent for analytics positions. This could include establishing an internship program, or helping colleges shape their curricula so they are more relevant for the business world.

“A good strategy will determine early where there are already good pockets of expertise, where more talent is needed, and where talent could be better used,” Khan says.

Ultimately, CIOs who fail cultivate or acquire the requisite talent risk playing catch-up to competitors who gain "first-mover advantage," he says.


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