“Technology has really exploded over the past few years, especially technology that allows a lot more tracking of what we do as people,” says Aleetza Senn, CEO of business analytics firm Sparkline.
“However, the challenge has been for people to keep up and to develop the skills necessary to interpret that information and make sense of it in a way that helps companies make strategic decisions ,” she continues.
According to a recent study by PwC, half of businesses already struggle to find analysts with the right skills and 40 per cent rely on the expertise of just one employee to analyse and interpret data.
“If you’re relying on one person to give you this very rich information, they can potentially be the individual who increases and gets the right talent in the room – but if they leave, that skill is completely gone,” she warns.
“Also, companies invest very heavily in technology but if you have one person using that technology then you you’re not going to get the best ROI.”
Instead, Senn says employers shouldn’t be focussing on the newest and most exciting tools – instead, they should be investing in their people to upskill talent from different departments within the organisations.
“If they all know how to use that information then everybody will be able to help the business become smarter about decision-making,” she says.
Senn, who’s previously worked for the likes of Google and YouTube, says organisations also have to look at upskilling their current analysts, many of who are lacking critical soft skills.
“Employers need to be thinking about not only the technical and programming skills these people need but also the critical thinking skills and the skills needed to merge business needs with the information they’re seeing,” she tells HRD
According to Senn, many companies that do have someone to interpret the vast amounts of information being gathered are still not using that person’s skills to their full advantage.
“These people are too often sat in some back room pulling reports when they should be sitting next to executives, helping them make decisions based on this information,” she says.
“There’s been a huge disconnect between the people who have the skills to interpret information and the people who are trying to make decisions for the business for far too long – it’s time we merge the two together.”
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Demand for data analysts is set to skyrocket over the next few years as organisations increasingly rely on technology to make decisions – however, one industry expert says employers remain woefully unprepared for the impending boom and most face a debilitating talent gap.