Data-focused initiatives remain a priority for IT leaders, according to a new Foundry report. More than half (55%) of 872 IT decision-makers surveyed expect increased investment in analytics capabilities over the next 12 to 18 months, up from 44% in last year's study.
While nearly two-thirds of respondents (63%) attribute revenue gains and new business opportunities to data technologies deployed in the last three years, 44% report a lack of analytics skills as an impediment to continued progress.
To address the skills gap and concerns about poor data quality and data governance/security issues, IT leaders say they will commit 46% of their data and analytics budgets to talent recruitment and upskilling efforts.
Every business wants the advantages of data solutions. But analytics insights are only as good as the data – and the people – behind them.
With companies committing an average of $12.3 million over the next year to analytics software, services, training and consulting, IT leaders are mobilizing to fill workforce skill gaps, implement data quality assurance measures and improve data governance and security protocols, the report found
A major part of these efforts center around recruiting qualified data professionals and upskilling existing IT personnel, according to Foundry.
At Eli Lilly & Company, for example, an initiative to provide enterprisewide analytics training to a workforce of over 30,000 has been underway, according to the company’s chief data and analytics officer Vipin Gopal.
“Historically, chief data officers have looked at building data infrastructure, AI models, etc.,” Vipin said during the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium last month. “Those are all important. But I think having an intentional effort to bring about organizational change has to be an important part of the job of the CDO.”
Individual companies have distinct data needs. But the Foundry report highlights internal business processes and IT operations automation, as well as customer insight, engagement and service, as the most common areas for analytics upgrades.
To get the most out of investments in new and emerging data technologies, the majority of survey respondents (83%) have prioritized self-service tools to facilitate better data access, and four in ten said they are looking to recruit talent with the skills to provide analytics training to non-technical staff.
On the technical side, data architects, data management, data security and data integration skills remain in high demand, according to the Foundry survey, a finding supported by industry analysts.
“The biggest challenge in building a data skills training program is addressing the needs around both data infrastructure and data analysis,” said Seth Robinson, VP for industry research at CompTIA, in an email.
Data analytics is a top objective for many companies, but CompTIA data shows the top three skill areas companies are currently targeting are data infrastructure, data security and database administration.
The demand for technical talent appears to be aligning with a broader, more nuanced understanding of what companies need in order to get the most out of data investments.
Companies have been working to address the need for data engineering, data science and AI/ML talent over the last five years, according to Forrester VP and principal analyst Michele Goetz.
“There’s still a scarcity but I think we’re solving that problem right now,” she said. “But, broader AI or data literacy is a massive gap.”
“It's just not a game of the data scientists anymore,” Gopal said. “It is a game of getting the organization as a whole to be culturally evolving, to be performing in an AI enabled ecosystem.”