Wanted: Analytics Professionals

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Anyone who spends their time working with data knows that analytics professionals are in critically short supply. Today, businesses are more data-centric than ever, and there’s no sign that’s going to change. In fact, IDC predicts that spending on big data will grow to $125 billion this year alone as more companies look to extract insight and intelligence from data across and outside of their organizations.

“U.S. businesses face a shortfall of 1.5 million managers and analysts with the ability to interpret and act upon insights drawn from the analysis of big data.”

The supply of talent simply hasn’t kept up with this dramatic growth. In the United States, we may face a shortage of up to 190,000 workers with deep analytical skills by 2018. That’s in addition to the predicted shortfall of 1.5 million managers and analysts with the ability to act upon the insights drawn from big data.

To those of us who recruit analytics professionals, the impact of these trends is clear. Companies want to hire people with a broad set of analytical skills, professionals who can work across multiple datasets and also have abilities in marketing, business and customer analytics. And this points to the primary reason for the analytics talent shortage: There simply aren’t enough people with the right mix of skills to meet the demand. Almost always, those who do are already employed.

What is this unique mix of skills?

  • Technical prowess. Experience working with databases like SQL and MySQL and programming languages like JavaScript, HTML, PHP, CSS, R and Python.
  • Quantitative ability. Statistical / predictive modeling, statistical and data analysis.
  • Cross-channel experience. The ability to mine data from multiple sources and synthesize the analysis.
  • Visualization. The ability to present data and insights in ways that make it useful and meaningful to others.
  • Communication. The skills to explain conclusions and sell recommendations to diverse audiences. The ability to use storytelling to influence the organization’s decision-makers.
  • Business savvy. A strong understanding of the business and the ability to make sound decisions that will increase growth.

“Business are looking for a rare combination of skills: technology, quantitative, communications and business savvy.”

Today, companies expect analytics professionals to contribute significantly to growth. They put a premium on the analyst’s unique ability to make connections between data sets and interpret what the numbers reveal, to help executives identify new markets and new products and find new ways to leverage existing businesses.

And because we remain in big data’s early days, analytics professionals are also expected to explore new technologies and systems that extract information more quickly and efficiently, leading to more meaningful and profitable insights.

It’s not surprising that businesses are having a hard time finding talent that can fulfill all these needs. I’m happy to say that, in my experience, it’s not impossible.

If you’re a hiring manager, CEO or CAO looking to build out your analytics team, start by cultivating relationships with organizations like the International Institute for Analytics and the Digital Analytics Association… and tapping the networks of specialist recruiting firms.

At the same time, work on your pitch to potential hires. Analytics professionals have their choice of employers, so you have to make it clear why they want to work for you. In my experience, money isn’t as much of a motivator as the ability to make a difference in the organization. Analytics professionals are also enticed by positions that offer them opportunities for real professional growth.

As a recruiter, I’m always interested in adding to my talent network. If you’re a professional with a background in technology, data science, marketing or web analytics, look for ways to broaden your experience. Volunteer for projects that will build your business skills or give you a taste of new areas of analytics. And give us a call.

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