Technology

Train Your Staff To Analyze Big Data

By / Mar 4, 2013

According to a recent survey, organizations should keep big data analytics in-house. For this, you need employees with a particular skill set.

Data affects almost every department of an organization, from marketing to accounting. According to a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the most effective way to handle big data is to analyze it in-house and to make sure it reaches the people who need it. “A data-driven culture cannot thrive if organizations operate as if data is an issue for someone else in the company, a job for a data specialist or perhaps the IT department,” noted a report on the survey in CMSWire.

Of course, this isn’t an easy task. Almost 70 percent of respondents—more than 500 senior executives in organizations around the world—said recruiting and retaining people with a data analysis skill set is “somewhat” to “very” difficult. What do you do in this situation?

The short answer is train the people you already have. One in three respondents said they value having programs in place to train employees.

Here are some ways to ensure your association is utilizing big data, no outside help necessary:

Have a tool kit: Part of the issue with training employees in this field is that organizations don’t know who to train. Jerry O’Dwyer, an analyst at Deloitte Consulting, says you can’t train everyone, but everyone should be given the chance to work with data. Having a tool kit and algorithms will help employees in the training process. “We are seeing a bifurcation between what is appropriate for the masses and the most specialist tools that require advanced capability,” says O’Dwyer in the survey report.

Doing the math: “Some analytical tasks, particularly predictive modelling, require a sophisticated knowledge of statistics,” according to the report. When it comes down to it, employees will be dealing with numbers if they’re handling data. As part of their training, they should be shown how to translate data in visualizations, especially if it’s a part of their expertise. As O’Dwyer says, data analysis shouldn’t be funneled through the IT department.

Not everyone can be a Nate Silver, but… it helps to have some knowledge of data analysis. Sanjay Dholakia, chief marketing officer of Marketo, has a tip: Take hints from Nate Silver, the New York Times data analyst who’s predicted the U.S. presidential election twice. He recommends embracing the data explosion, tracking performance, and gathering as much information as possible over time.

How do you train your employees to handle big data? Share your tactics in the comment section below.

Anita Ferrer

Anita Ferrer is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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