How to Bridge the Analytics Skills Gap

October 16th, 2014

If your goal is to hire top analytics talent, you’re not alone. When you search “data analyst” on popular job boards, you’re likely to find at least 80,000 postings. The Harvard Business Review recently reported that 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies have funded Big Data Initiatives. At the same time, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 24 percent increase in demand for professionals with data analytical skills by 2020.

These statistics are indicative of the dual-pronged skills gap challenging employers today. They need well-rounded data specialists who:

  • Have the latest tech backgrounds including proficiency in statistics, math, and database and systems management.
  • Are skilled in consulting, communications and business acumen; in other words, have the ability to effectively tell the story behind the numbers.

We’re rapidly headed toward the day when just about every job will have some connection to data. Managers and employees who lack a solid quant background can quickly be left behind in the job market. As a business leader, it’s time to think about how to develop these skills across your organization.

Challenge: Hire More Data Scientists

According to LinkedIn, there are fewer than 825 data scientists in the United States and most are concentrated in the Silicon Valley. Someone with this job title should be able to bridge the divide between computer science, statistics and domain expertise, and deliver an integrated systems approach to analytics.

  • The primary obstacle to making this happen is architectural integration. The statistician who builds models rarely has the skill set to code them. This results in a misalignment between the intent of the designer and what the model actually can do once it’s deployed within a company.
  • Training is an issue. Among businesses in a recent survey, 83 percent said they lack the necessary skills training to produce their own predictive analytics. And 58 percent of businesses have challenges understanding the math. In the world of Big Data and Hadoop, companies are working toward analytic platforms that leverage such existing skill sets as SQL, but new capabilities supporting emerging technologies are a larger barriers.
  • Build relationships with educational institutions. Each year, more universities bestow degrees in analytics-related fields. Step up your on-campus recruiting and strengthen relationships with schools via your alumni and other professional connections. Look for events and programs sponsored by academic learning organizations like INFORMS.

Challenge: Make Effective Use of Models

Spreadsheets continue to dominate in conducting analytics. Unfortunately, they’re not well equipped by themselves to handle the needs of tomorrow’s organizations. Managers need to augment their knowledge with a new set of tools.

  • Work with your vendors to create self-guided, closed-loop systems. They must be intuitive and must not require users to have an advanced degree in order to learn them. When a process cannot be completely automated, a system should provide users with guidance regarding which data to pay attention to in order to make decisions.

With the right plan, strategy, resources and support, you can bridge the analytics talent gap so that your company is poised for success in the tech-driven world of today – and tomorrow. To learn more, contact the Select Group, Inc., team of specialized recruiters today. We look forward to hearing from you!

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