Data skills – Many hands make light work in a world awash with data
While the transformation to a data-driven culture needs to come from the top of the organization, data skills must permeate through all areas of the business.
Rather than being the responsibility of one person or department, assuring data availability and integrity must be a team sport in modern data-centric businesses. Everyone must be involved and made accountable throughout the process.
The challenge for enterprises is to effectively enable greater data access among the workforce while maintaining oversight and quality.
The Evolution of the Data Team
Businesses are recognizing the value and opportunities that data creates. There is an understanding that data needs to be handled and processed efficiently. For some companies, this has led to the formation of a new department of data analysts and scientists.
The data team is led by a Chief Data Officer (CDO), a role that is set to become key to business success in the digital era, according to recent research from Gartner. While earlier iterations of roles within the data team centered on data governance, data quality and regulatory issues, the focus is shifting. Data analysts and scientists are now expected to contribute and deliver a data-driven culture across the company, while also driving business value. According to the Gartner survey, the skills required for roles within the data team have expanded to span data management, analytics, data science, ethics, and digital transformation.
Businesses are clearly recognizing the importance of the data team’s functions and are making significant investments in it. Office budgets for the data team increased by an impressive 23% between 2016 and 2017 according to Gartner. What’s more, some 15% of the CDOs that took part in the study revealed that their budgets were more than $20 million for their departments, compared with just 7% who said the same in 2016. The increasing popularity and evolution of these new data roles has largely been driven by GDPR in Europe and by new data protection regulations in the US. And the evidence suggests that the position will be essential for ensuring the successful transfer of data skills throughout businesses of all sizes.
The Data Skills Shortage
Data is an incredibly valuable resource, but businesses can only unlock its full potential if they have the talent to analyze that data and produce actionable insights that help them to better understand their customers’ needs. However, companies are already struggling to cope with the big data ecosystem due to a skills shortage and the problem shows little sign of improving. In fact, Europe could see a shortage of up to 500,000 IT professionals by 2020, according to the latest research from consultancy firm Empirica.
The rapidly evolving digital landscape is partly to blame as the skills required have changed radically in recent years. The required data science skills needed at today’s data-driven companies are more wide-ranging than ever before. The modern workforce is now required to have a firm grasp of computer science including everything from databases to the cloud, according to strategic advisor and best-selling author Bernard Marr. In addition, analytical skills are essential to make sense of the ever-increasing data gathered by enterprises, while mathematical skills are also vital as much of the data captured will be numerical as this is largely due to IoT and sensor data. These skills must also sit alongside more traditional business and communication skills, as well as the ability to be creative and adapt to developing technologies.
The need for these skills is set to increase, with IBM predicting that the number of jobs for data professionals will rise by a massive 28% by 2020. The good news is that businesses are already recognizing the importance of digital skills in the workforce, with the role of Data Scientist taking the number one spot in Glassdoor’s Best Jobs in America for the past three years, with a staggering 4,524 positions available in 2018.
Data Training Employees
Data quality management is a task that extends across all functional areas of a company. It, therefore, makes sense to provide the employees in the specialist departments with tools to ensure data quality in self-service. Cloud-based tools that can be rolled out quickly and easily in the departments are essential. This way, companies can gradually improve their data quality whilst also increasing the value of their data.
While the number of data workers triples and to stay competitive with GDPR, businesses must think of good data management as a team sport. Investing in the Chief Data Officer role and data skills now will enable forward-thinking businesses to reap the rewards, both in the short-term and further into the future.