Is IT Responsible for End-User Data Analysis Skills?

    As the job descriptions for data scientists and data analysts become more specific and the worries that not enough skilled potential hires are available in the right place at the right time to deal with Big Data initiatives, some CIOs see another potential problem arising from the race to maximize data analytics. And the negative consequences are partially pointed right at IT.

    Much planning and investment is being devoted in companies around the world to selecting, procuring and providing sophisticated and powerful tools to allow employees across the organization to collaborate, analyze data and reach organizational goals. It’s become accepted as almost fact that to neglect this technology investment is tantamount to ruin. But, writes Andrew Horne, managing director of the CEB CIO Leadership Council, on the Executive Board blog,

    “As organizations deploy ever more powerful tools for analytics and collaboration, they risk outstripping employees’ abilities to collaborate and analyze data. Those abilities are surprisingly limited. Only 20% of employees are effective at network performance – defined as ‘an employee’s effectiveness at improving others’ performance and using others’ contributions to improve his or her own performance.’ And, only 38% have the skills and judgment to use data effectively for decision making.”

    Based on research performed for The Executive Board’s “The Future of Corporate IT 2017,” this breakdown in the match between the capacity in technology and the ability in staff is creating worry and a controversy for some CIOs.

    If IT provides the tools deemed necessary for data analytics success, but the workforce hasn’t the skills or the capacity for critical thinking to use those tools effectively, the investment is wasted, and IT will be blamed for not providing value.

    The CEB researchers are of the mindset that the entire executive suite, including the CIO, is responsible for rectifying the situation. That effort will most likely include IT taking on a much more prominent role in training users in how to use the tools correctly and effectively. This, of course, assumes that those skills are present among the IT staff.

    Could a move toward providing high-level competency training to a growing number of knowledge workers create a more strategic role for the CIO and the IT department?


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