Four keys to building an analytical workforce


Organizations often struggle to build a culture that supports data-driven decisions and embed the right leadership and skills at all levels, despite the benefits of doing so.  A recent research study conducted by the Accenture SAS Analytics Group indicated that investment in business analytics and analytical talent will rise in 2012, but organizations still have their work cut out for them when it comes to making initiatives effective and instilling the right analytical culture and skills. This research shows that companies are beginning to recognize the importance of instilling such an analytical culture, which is a key mission for the Accenture SAS Analytics Group.

According to the survey results, executive respondents highlighted three leading areas for investment:

  • Improving analytical skills of current employees (70 percent)
  • Improving decision making processes (63 percent)
  • Hiring analytical talent (52 percent)

Prompted by the research findings, Accenture’s Stacy Blanchard, SAS chief researcher Pamela Prentice and I recently spoke with a journalist from Bank Systems and Technology to offer advice on how financial institutions can build a workforce equipped to compete in an increasingly data-driven industry.

During our chat, we explained that there are four ways to take business intelligence to the next level in order to build an analytical workforce. While the context of this discussion was banking, these principles apply to any industry:

  1. Put talent before technology.
  2. Place emphasis on “soft” in addition to technical skills.
  3. Invest in ongoing staff development.
  4. Be creative when looking outside the organization for new talent.

These recommendations are underscored by the 60 percent of our survey respondents saying they are missing the right analytical business skills, technical skills or both. Furthermore, with inadequate analytical skills cited as the main reason more than a quarter of respondents described their analytical projects as under-performing, it is not surprising that organizations will look to increase investment in analytics talent and education in the near future.

Read the full article (page 16) “4 Keys to Building an Analytical Workforce” and give me your thoughts.  What are your issues around analytical talent and culture?  Do you have best practices to share? Where do you find your analytical talent?

PS – In my last blog post, I promised to soon discuss thought creation and collaboration.   Stay tuned for more on that.


About Author

Russ Cobb

Vice President, Global Alliances and Channels

Russ Cobb leads the SAS global team accountable for new business development with a diverse ecosystem of alliance and channel partners. In this role, he drives new go to market models with partners to solve high-value customer business needs. To make this happen, Russ leverages skills from his many experiences in strategy creation, marketing, finance, organizational design, business development, and amateur psychology. He built his foundation through industrial engineering at NC State and an MBA from Northwestern and finds himself using this core knowledge just about every day.

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