Survey: Companies to Invest in Analytics Skills

Susan Hall
Slide Show

Business Analytics: Shifting Hindsight to Insight and Foresight

Highlights from a study conducted by Deloitte on business analytics usage.

In the slideshow "Eight Essentials of Business Analytics," based on information provided by software vendor SAS, it's interesting to note that getting the right technology is listed before getting the right talent. This seems really backward to me, though perhaps you'd expect that from a vendor. But do you buy a piece of equipment without knowing how to use it?


Jim Davis, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at the company, is quoted at Insurance Networking News, saying:

Buying a hammer means you can drive a nail, but to build a house you need plans, skills and commitment. It's the same for advanced analytics - tools alone will only take you part of the way.

In an SAS-sponsored survey a couple of months ago of 930 C-level executives, 97 percent said their companies have adopted business analytics, compared with 90 percent in 2009. In a more recent survey by Accenture SAS Analytics Group, however, 60 percent of respondents said they do not have the right analytical skills to effectively use the technology in place. A quarter admitted their analytics projects are not performing up to par, largely due to inadequate analytics skills.


At the same time, the more recent survey found 72 percent of respondents plan to increase spending on business analytics next year, and two of the top three investment priorities they cited included improving employees' analytic skills (70 percent) and hiring analytical talent (52 percent). The third was improving decision-making processes (63 percent).


Said Stacy Blanchard, talent and organization lead for analytics at Accenture,

In the past, investment in analytics has come in the form of traditional, tangible improvements from the latest technology, process improvements and changes to an organization's structure. But without parallel investment to align leadership, develop the necessary capabilities, ready the talent and build a culture where better and faster decisions, powered by analytics, are part of the DNA, businesses will inevitably hit a roadblock and miss the real opportunity that exists. It's encouraging to see that executives are beginning to realize this.

Of course, you might have more success in training existing employees in analytics than hiring that skill from outside. A McKinsey & Co. report found that talent pool way too shallow:

In the United States alone, our research shows, the demand for people with the deep analytical skills in Big Data (including machine learning and advanced statistical analysis) could outstrip current projections of supply by 50 to 60 percent. By 2018, as many as 140,000 to 190,000 additional specialists may be required. Also needed: an additional 1.5 million managers and analysts with a sharp understanding of how big data can be applied. Companies must step up their recruitment and retention programs, while making substantial investments in the education and training of key data personnel.

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