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Avoiding a data and analytics disaster

Image: Adobe Stock / Connect world

Data and analytics (D&A) leaders need to deliver tangible business outcomes for their organisations and their respective stakeholders. They must prove how D&A has not only improved business processes, but also how it has led to better business decisions and supported digital transformations.

D&A leaders find their success hindered by several factors. Those top roadblocks are a lack of skills, an inability to accept culture related change, not having sufficient resources and funding, a lack of trust in data, not keeping stakeholders sufficiently involved, or employees not being data literate.

Here are some top tips to ensuring the success of your D&A programme.

Tackling skills and staff shortages long-term

Attracting, developing and retaining D&A talent to establish the must-have roles is key when it comes to closing the skills and staff gap.

Establishing must-have roles that deliver measurable contributions to your D&A initiatives is key. It will also help to attract, develop, and retain D&A talent and close the skills and staff gap.

This can be helped through internal and external efforts. Internally, joining forces with HR might seem obvious, but it is a great way to recruit, retain and develop talent and ultimately diminish that gap.

Externally, developing a human-centric job description that outlines all skills required including interpersonal skills, development opportunities, and benefits is key. This added touch creates a likeable opportunity filled with balance, flexibility, and growth possibilities – all elements that attract potential.

Additionally, recruitment from within the organisation is an easy way to identify existing talent internally and then upskilling and reskilling them to fit the desired role. It also cements the ideology around career development and presents opportunities for growth. Alongside internal recruitment, think of creating a talent pipeline which will display a clear growth potential within the team and serves as part of a longer-term retention strategy.

Overcoming culture challenges means accepting change

Collaboration by prototyping use cases in cross-functional teams is key in changing employee behaviours. Additionally creating the role of D&A translator or facilitator to lead the change and drive adoption of D&A is a key way to address the culture challenges your organisation might be facing.

Create an enterprise-wide talent development plan to build the right skills, knowledge and competencies that can support data-driven change. Emphasise interpersonal skills over technology skills and work with cross-discipline teams, to identify high-value use cases to show potential value of D&A for the organisation.

How to overcome lack of resources and funding

To address challenges such as a lack of resources and funding, create a D&A strategy that clearly links to business outcomes and establish an operating model to incrementally build the required D&A capabilities to support stakeholder in their goals and objectives.

In this situation, business leaders can leverage existing funding and resources for digital and other existing programmes with heavy D&A elements. Be explicit about the use, need and value of data and analytics, and quantify and communicate that specific value on a regular basis.

Overcoming the lack of trust in data or data sources

Start by identifying relevant use cases and look to see if internal and/or external datasets are available to support each of those use cases by working with various business stakeholders, business innovation teams and system owners. Introducing a more adaptive type of data governance, where shared data is being controlled for consistency, but where the governance over siloed data or new datasets is more focused on outcomes or agility, can improve that trust. It is essential to engage with the different lines of business and work alongside them to identify which datasets are needed or can be shared for new and innovative use cases.

Identify, describe and catalogue internal and external datasets by matching them to the use cases and determine the right trust levels for them. Continue to engage with lines of business to seek new ways to leverage them.

Overcoming a lack of business stakeholder involvement and support

Create a network of sponsors consisting of both stakeholders and champions to share measurable business outcomes with the organisation to address a lack of involvement and support by the stakeholders.

Communicate not only the collective benefits of D&A initiatives, but also the personal benefit for individual stakeholders is crucial.

Finally, create a communication deck that shows the vision and roadmap of your D&A initiatives, and start an internal tour, tailoring your message to the business priorities of different audiences.

Overcoming poor data literacy

Establish programmes that are aligned with business objectives by creating data literacy personas based on specific responsibilities and maturity. Having that ability to read, write, and communicate data in context, including an understanding of data sources and constructs, analytical methods and techniques applied, is essential to the success of the business.

To do so, develop a vision around data literacy and build unique value propositions for stakeholders by sharing how improved data literacy contributes to the business outcomes. Furthermore, assess the data literacy of your organisation by looking at the required skills, knowledge, and competences. Then, develop employee-specific curriculum and training and show how improved data literacy leads to more success in their role.

Overall, make sure the data literacy initiative is part of a wider change programme to foster a data-driven culture for your organisation with measurable objectives and dedicated roles like the D&A translator.

Jorgen Heizenberg
Jorgen Heizenberg
VP Analyst at Gartner

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