Short on Analytics Talent? Seven Tips to Help Your Company Thrive

Demand for analytics professionals far outstrips supply. How can companies do without — and still move forward?

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Competing With Data & Analytics

How does data inform business processes, offerings, and engagement with customers? This research looks at trends in the use of analytics, the evolution of analytics strategy, optimal team composition, and new opportunities for data-driven innovation.
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Headlines and anecdotes paint a bleak picture for organizations that need analytical talent. Demand for talent currently far exceeds the supply. It may be difficult and painful until we reach an equilibrium. In the meantime, how can organizations best take advantage of analytics with limited access to the best analytics talent?

This situation is similar in many respects to the talent shortfall that accompanied the Internet’s growth in the late 1990s. The lessons are similar, too: as the Internet exploded more than a decade ago, demand for talented web developers far exceeded supply. Compensation for skilled technical talent soared as exuberant investors poured capital into a wide range of unprofitable online companies. Many organizations were unable to attract and retain people with necessary talents. In the middle of technology booms, human resources can become bottlenecks.

Our not-too-distant past offers insights to guide organizations. Here are seven of them:

1. Remaining short-handed may be better than finding talent that’s a poor fit for your needs.

Ideally, every need is filled with the right person. However, it is better to be short-handed than take on dysfunctional team members — the kind of employees you see in sitcoms and Dilbert strips. In the dot-com boom, startups compromised on qualifications, favoring pedigree over prowess and “who you know” over “what you know.”

Even well-intentioned but unqualified staff can drain time and resources. In 1975, Fred Brooks’s Mythical Man-Month influenced a generation of project managers with its argument that adding new people imposes costs on the existing people, and may delay rather than expedite projects. The Mythical Man-Month is as true now as it was in 1975. Don’t add staff to fill a slot; be sure that adding people to your organization’s analytics team will add value quickly.

2. Don’t let fear of competition encourage a “for now” mentality.

Faced with time pressures, temptations to take shortcuts are inevitable. Hungry to gain first-mover advantage and to capitalize on network effects, many companies in the dot-com boom built digital houses of cards. Complete overhaul was then required to scale. For example, in analytics, it may be quicker to manually clean data “for now” rather than build a process — but any short-term savings quickly erode when the process becomes routine. Inevitably, shortcuts done “for now” unintentionally become “forever.

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Topics

Competing With Data & Analytics

How does data inform business processes, offerings, and engagement with customers? This research looks at trends in the use of analytics, the evolution of analytics strategy, optimal team composition, and new opportunities for data-driven innovation.
See All Articles in This Section

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