Getting Recognition Right for Analytics Professionals

Susan Hall
Slide Show

Work Force Challenges in 2011

Despite the improving economy, we'll continue to struggle with difficult work force challenges in 2011.

Of course you would expect such assertions, but the International Institute for Analytics (IIA) has predicted an explosion in the use of analytics within certain industries during 2011 and that those who practice it will be leaving those who don't in the dust.


An example of that is Atefeh "Atti" Riazi, CIO of the New York City Housing Authority, who uses predictive analytics to challenge assumptions about public housing.


I've written that as a career, analytics is hot-as has my colleague Ann All. She mentions a New York Times article last summer saying that statistician would be a "sexy" job in IT over the next decade.


A post at the IIA website, meanwhile, notes an increasing number of executive titles for practitioners of analytics, including Chief Analytics Officer (CAO), Chief Problem-Solving Officer, Head of Customer Insight, Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Decision Officer. More recently, Chief Data Scientist has gained popularity.


It notes these characteristics of the person filling role:


  • typically has at least one graduate degree in a quantitative field
  • seasoned and experienced so age tends to be late thirties or higher
  • leads teams of analysts-sometimes large global teams depending on the organization's size
  • still likes to do analysis him or herself on occasion
  • knows a variety of programming languages and software tools
  • serves as trusted advisor for key decision-makers to help them know which questions to ask
  • has a love of learning and problem-solving
  • is able to convey complex concepts easily to less analytically savvy audiences


Retaining key employees continues to be a recurring theme as the economy improves and it's important to provide career paths for those interested in taking on management roles and also for those who don't, according to the IIA.


This article at Analytics magazine focuses on retaining talent. It says:

Analytics professionals need an opportunity to be both creative and to share their creativity with their peers ... Unfortunately, businesses frequently aren't structured around interesting problems and peer recognition. They're structured around getting the job done, then rewarding people with higher salaries and increased managerial responsibilities. The typical reward structure within business isn't aligned with the reward structure that motivates analytics professionals. ... it's best to create a separate reward structure ... based on a combination of technical accomplishments and how those accomplishments serve the business.

It suggests creating titles such as Analyst 1, Analyst 2, Senior Analyst 1 and Senior Analyst 2 for promotions of those who do not want to take on managerial duties. Senior members would be expected to mentor younger and less experienced staff members, but would be allowed to take on projects with potential high value and long-term benefit to the company.


It also suggests senior professionals present their work to wider audiences within the company as well as at conferences as a means to demonstrate the value the company places on analytics.


According to the IIA post:

Those who are drawn to a CAO-like role view the position as providing the opportunity to lead in trying new things effecting more rapid learning, and adding value that makes a real difference. Who wouldn't want one of those?

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