Businesses must prioritise developing internal analytics to utilise their data to its full potential. Yolanda Peck explains what you can do to make your data work for your organisation.

In a recent survey, over 30% of business leaders said both peers and management lack the skills to drive a data-led strategy. The consequence of ignoring these skills gaps can be detrimental to the whole organisation. This is clear from a recent World Economic Forum Jobs Report, which identified the top four fastest-growing job skill requirements in the years between 2023 and 2027:

  • Creative thinking
  • Analytical thinking
  • Technological literacy
  • Curiosity and lifelong learning

There are clear actions you can take to ensure your business keeps your people trained and engaged in using data to achieve your goals. 

Embrace a ‘data-centric’ culture

Your data strategy should be clearly linked to your corporate and business strategy, and be seen as an enabler for meeting wider objectives. Think about the infrastructure you currently have in place, including data governance and compliance, and invest in data skills and capabilities to build a more user-friendly data infrastructure, and foster experimentation and innovation.

Organisational ‘buy-in’

Involve the whole organisation – especially the finance, HR, and systems teams - to show them how data-led decision making will translate into business benefits. They are key stakeholders so will need to be involved in the selection of data analytics tools and related budgets.

Shout about the benefits

A clear data strategy should bring benefits to all functions of your business. These are the key messages about the potential outcomes of integrating data into your operations that you should be sharing with your stakeholders:

  • Supporting strategic conversations within the business based on quality data
  • Enhancing talent management strategies
  • Improving problem-solving capabilities
  • Enabling a forward-thinking culture
  • Increasing employee engagement through digital and data skill development
  • Improving trust in HR, financial information, ESG, and sales metrics
  • Increased confidence in data presentations and automation of repetitive, tedious tasks

Develop ‘data citizens’

Empowering people to become more confident and proficient with data will enable them to think about their role and function in new ways. These are the people that will deliver the greatest value to the business over the next decade.

‘Data citizens’ are data-literate colleagues who aren't trained in coding or statistics, but have insightful perspectives on what your business needs: across sales, operations, finance, HR, production, and other services. Frequent data-users are often using spreadsheets and still spending time both generating reports and performing analyses manually instead of leveraging data analytics tools.

Helping everyone to become confident data workers who can automate their day-to-day tasks and workflows is the key first step towards building a data-centric culture.

Demystify data

Multiple industries report revolutionary changes in business strategy which are driven by cutting-edge data science.  But in the real world, many complex analysis tasks can be achieved using low code/no code tools, such as Excel or Power BI. 

It's important to de-mystify the terminology, especially if you're looking to upskill employees less comfortable with technology.  We're still talking about using spreadsheets, but in a time efficient and user-friendly manner. This will also help address issues with some employees feeling demotivated and under-skilled.

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Can apprenticeships help you realise your data-ambitions?

There's often a misconception that bringing new skills into your business is about recruiting talent who already have the training you require, but to build a real data-driven culture you also need to think about your current people. Apprenticeships are a cost-effective option to teach people skills while they're working in their role, and mean they can implement them immediately, while you see the benefits of more efficient and engaged employees. 

Claiming support through the apprenticeship levy funds can help you reduce the impact on already overstretched learning and development budgets. 

There are many – constantly updated - programmes to help with data and technology upskilling.    From general data citizen and analytics to contextualised pathways aimed at specific industries (eg, travel, automotive) or job roles, as well as tackling current issues in HR, finance, ESG reporting, or any other business function.

For more insight and guidance get in touch with Yolanda Peck.