Analytics is not easy. Or to be clear; getting the most business value from your data is not easy. There is so much to get right before you can unlock the hidden gems which are unquestionable lying deep inside your databases.
Just consider the journey: First you must work on something which is highly important and valuable to the business. Then you must use all available data to make analysis which gives new insights and knowledge upon which decisions can be made. Finally, and most importantly, you must convince the decision makers to make these decisions based upon your analysis and to do that you must present it right, show them the value, consequences and risk of failure. Only then will your work bear any fruit.
But be careful – don’t assume that decision makers will believe you capable of doing all of that on your own. This reminds me when my daughter was younger, I one day tried to convince her, that I was a superhero. She verged on believing me but when I told her that I could do anything, she said “Now I know you are not telling the truth, dad. Everybody knows that superheros only have one superpower”.
I was not able to fool my daughter and neither will you be able to convince your head of HR or your CEO, that you possess all workforce analytics abilities at expert level.
I therefore propose that you assemble a team for you analytics which has a multiple of superheroes each with a superpower of their own. Specifically I suggest six competencies (in random order);
1. Excellent statistics and numbers skills
There is no getting around that good analytics requires excellent statistics and numbers skills. You can get far with doing simple regression-, factor- and t-test analysis but at other times, you will need skills in more advanced statistics when the data set become really big or you are looking for more predictive analysis.
2. Strong data management skills
Let’s be frank; you will get nowhere in your analytics journey if your data is not clean, good and have a strong governance structure around it. Those and many other data management issues are essential for good analytics. For some it is mundane work, for others it is a passion. If it is the former for you, get somebody on board for whom it is a passion. It is that important.
3. Captivating storyteller
Analytics – even predictive – will only add value if a decision is made on the back of it. It sounds trivial, but data does not speak for itself and to move a decision maker into making a decision you must create a compelling story around it. Sounds easy? For some it is for others it is not. Find somebody who does this well. It will make a big difference to the value of your analysis.
4. Ability to visualize your results
Studies on ex. cognitive load show that if you give a decision makers too much data, they will either not make any decision or make the wrong one. Visualization techniques is a powerful tool to present complex data in a simple and easy-to-understand way. This is not about making your pie charts 3D. It is a whole different category and an art more than a skill.
5. Strong psychological skills
There are so many reasons why I feel that strong psychological skills may be the most essential of all six skills. Just to name two reasons here; it is partly because you will understand how to make more impact with you data if you understand terms such as cognitive dissonance, bias, over-conficence etc. And also because your data has not meaning if you don’t understand how to convert information to knowledge which in essence requires a deep understanding of psychology.
6. Understand the business
A final skill which I find is most often not present as much as it should is the simple but powerful skill of actually understanding the business. This requires you to fully understand what is the customer value proposition is, what the strategy is (the must win battles), key differentiating factors, financial situation and more. I mean really understand the business.
Analytics require a lot of skills and abilities – superpowers if you like. The best way to ensure that you have the right ones to deliver on your task is to assemble the best team. An analytics superhero team.