Data Analytics GapsWe have a tremendous opportunity in business today, and right along with it a terrible problem. The promise of data—big or otherwise—is overshadowed by the fact that not enough of us know how to use data to extract business insights. For example, the United States is short about 200,000 workers with deep analytical skills and short 1.5 million managers who can make meaningful decisions based on data. 

 It’s a global issue as well. Global Survey: Is Big Data Producing Big Returns?, a 2012 Avanade survey of 569 C-level executives, business unit leaders, and IT decision makers in 18 countries, found that:

  • 56 percent of IT decision makers believe finding the right staff is a bigger challenge than finding the right technology when it comes to analyzing their company’s data 
  • 63 percent of stakeholders surveyed believe their company needs to develop new skills to turn data into business insights.

So it’s not surprising at all that 70 percent of these executives said their companies do not use their data to predict or assess staffing needs—not that they don’t have the data, but that they don’t use them because they don’t know how. 

The Economist Intelligence Unit polled 750 executives worldwide in 2012 and again in 2013 about their experiences with big data. In that time, cost and budget limitations became less of an obstacle to data analysis, and the analytics skills gap became more of one. Now, by that logic, none of us should have any trouble getting a budget to train people on data analytics. If you aren’t already training your own teams on data analytics, when you leave my upcoming session, Data Driven Sales Talent Development, you must put that process in motion. 

Big Data Isn't Just Big, It's Huge

Predictive and prescriptive analytics are a new reality that the business world must understand and embrace in our corporate cultures. But most restrict their attention to a few discrete applications, such as:

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  • reducing customer turnover (churn) 
  • identifying fraud (shrinkage) 
  • perfecting and positioning products 
  • improving the hiring, training, and increased time to productivity of sales reps.

These applications are very valuable, but they fail to capitalize on the full potential of data analytics to holistically transform sales effectiveness in all functional areas of an organization.

This type of transformation is possible. I know it's possible, because I've taken the journey. One of my professional goals is to help individuals find the path to greater success for their company's organization by harnessing the power of data analytics. Indeed, we all have the ability—perhaps even the obligation—to take the incredibly powerful tool that is data analytics and apply it to our work, to make ourselves, our teams, and our companies more effective and successful.

That is why I decided to write my book, Data Driven: How Performance Analytics Delivers Extraordinary Sales Results. The book is for anyone who wants to better understand the connections between data, people, and productivity and to use that understanding to help companies drive revenue. That’s not just a sales story, but a story that any functional area can take advantage of. And my message is that anyone can learn the steps to unlock the keys to data and analytics. 

What initiatives do you currently have in your organization that draw insights from data analytics?