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Talent in Demand with Digital and Analytic Capabilities

December 15, 2015

According to a recent study by A.T. Kearney 2015 Leadership Excellence in Analytic Practices (LEAP) found that fully two-thirds of the companies it identified as “leaders,” those with most advanced digital and analytics capabilities, have been unable to meet the demand for such talent. This shortfall will only worsen, given the demand for such talent will grow by 30 percent.

The survey also found that “leading companies” (8 percent of companies surveyed) are using data both to understand their business, as well as embracing it as a way to predict the trends that will affect business going forward and drive competitive advantage.

These companies also recognize the importance of building a new generation of business managers with specialist skills in the areas of quantitative analytics, digital technology and business strategy. Elite digital and analytics talent are proving to be much more than number crunchers – they are also strategic thinkers that can help corporate leaders look toward the future.

The LEAP study identified three other levels of analytics organizations. They are:

  1. Laggards (24 percent of respondents) – Analytics is limited to reporting on past performance.
  2. Followers (41 percent) – Analytics are used to understand and manage the drivers of cost and revenue.
  3. Explorers (27 percent) – Analytics helps predict new trends to optimize business performance.

For this year’s LEAP study, A.T. Kearney surveyed 430 senior executives across 10 countries and 30 industries. The study looks at the opportunities and challenges that companies face as they seek to build the next generation of digital and analytics talent. The survey sought to determine which companies are most successful in attracting top analytics talent and what they do that allows them to stand out.

Khalid Khan, A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the study, noted “One way to look at analytics talent is that the top analytics employees are truly ‘trilingual’ – these are people who understand the languages of analytic modelling, technology, and business. Trilinguals are analytical and creative, insightful and inquisitive, and they are willing to look outside of the box for new solutions.”

Christian Hagen, A.T. Kearney partner and study co-author stated, “For leading companies, building digital and analytics capabilities is a strategic priority. These companies know how to apply these capabilities to their businesses, and they take the time and effort needed to recruit and retain the top talent.  Additionally, successful companies support the development of digital and analytics capabilities with specific career paths and talent strategies.”

See: Top Jobs for 2016: Talent in Demand

Findings from the 2015 LEAP Study

The LEAP study and A.T. Kearney experience with companies across many industries points to three key challenges that makes attracting top talent so difficult:

  1. Analytics as a discipline remains relatively new. For many companies technology and analytics are playing a much greater role than ever before. Organizing and orchestrating analytics talent to fit into this new role takes time, so there is often a lag.
  2. Corporate silos hamper analytics. Analytics is a hybrid skill set that can influence nearly every corner of the business. To fully exploit the analytics opportunity, the talent must be deployed across the organization.
  3. Traditional sources of talent are still playing catch-up. While colleges and universities are fast incorporating analytics programs and degrees, nearly 60 percent of the survey respondents say that the talent coming out of these universities is insufficiently prepared for the full scope of their companies’ demands.

A computer science major will have great programming skills and an information management major will have deep technology knowledge, but holders of both degrees will need to supplement their skill sets to become truly trilingual.

The study found that the leading firms are most acutely aware of the difficulties attracting and retaining talent – 72 percent of the leaders responded that their firms are having difficulty hiring analytics talent.

Some companies have found candidates with the right technical analytics training, but lack the business skills to make strong decisions. Other executives are having difficulty finding candidates with the right balance of hard and soft skills.

Also read: 5 Key Defining Talent Trends to Effectively Recruit the Mobile-Enabled, On-Demand Workforce

Image source: atkearney.com

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