- Data and analytics technologies top the list of near-term investment priorities for 53% of senior executives, according to a report from EY. The global consulting firm surveyed 1,668 senior executives during Q4 of 2021.
- Despite broad data aspirations, nearly one in five executives (19%) cite a shortage of analytics and IT talent as a barrier to executing data-centric strategies.
- As companies search for people with the needed analytics and IT skills, in-house talent has become a preferred option. Seven in 10 executives said they are committed to re-skilling efforts, although one in three acknowledged their companies have ineffective upskilling programs.
The analytics boom puts pressure on CIOs and other C-suite executives to staff dedicated teams, improve data literacy and identify data mining, administration and analytics talent. While some of this demand can be met through recruitment, upskilling initiatives coupled with retraining programs can deliver part of the solution.
“Hiring this type of talent has become more complicated as the lines are blurring between data scientists and modern software engineers, with all major players competing for these highly sought-after resources,” said Stephanie Nashawaty, SVP and chief customer innovation officer at SAP North America, in an email.
In the data-centric paradigm favored by companies that EY classifies as “exceeding expectations” in their use of big data, analytics insights are shared enterprisewide. In order to accomplish this, businesses have to cultivate digital talent throughout the organization, increasing the need for data literacy throughout the workforce.
“To gain competitive advantage through effective use of data, analytics skills are needed across business functions and not just in the IT team,” Teresa Sears, VP for certification product management at IT trade group CompTIA, said in an email.
AI, predictive analytics and customer personalization are three major factors driving the analytics boom, according to a 2021 analysis by CompTIA. To compete in these areas, companies are turning to a multi-pronged workforce development strategy that stresses upskilling efforts to supplement traditional recruitment and retention programs, according to the EY report.
But data and analytics training programs aren't easy to implement.
The most in-demand skills are in the highly technical areas of data infrastructure, data security and database administration, according to Seth Robinson, VP for industry research at CompTIA, in an email to CIO Dive. “The biggest challenge in building a data skills training program is addressing the needs around both data infrastructure and data analysis."
From her vantage at SAP, Nashawaty has a view of the talent development problem from both an internal and an external perspective. The CIOs she works with at other companies are “deep in the throes of a talent shortage,” she said.
Nashawaty advocates for a broad approach to filling the talent gap. When there is a scarcity of particular skills at SAP, she relies on a how-they-can-grow rather than a what-they-know strategy to identify talent. “It allows you to cast a wider net and look at talent pools you might not have previously considered,” she said.