Analytics Skill-Sets, A Must For Digital Leaders

by Sohini Bagchi    Oct 30, 2015

sarita

To thrive in the digital era, business leaders are expected to develop multiple skill-sets that enable them to drive their organization to the fullest efficiency. Of all skill-sets, analytical and thinking skills are the most important in today’s time where large volumes of data is readily available but applying analytical and logical skills to arrive at meaningful insights has become necessary, believes Sarita Digumarti, COO at Jigsaw Academy, a Bangalore-based online data analytics training school. In an exclusive interaction with CXOtoday, she discusses the relevance of analytical skills among business leaders.

 Why analytic skills are increasingly becoming important for business leaders?

Today’s managers and leaders are faced with an ever evolving, vibrant and at times volatile business environment. Most of them know that the only way to grow their careers, no matter their industry, or functional area, is to ensure that they keep themselves updated with the latest innovations and advances in their chosen field. However what they may not be aware of is this. Today to truly succeed, all managers need to invest in data analytic skills, because like it or not, the very role of a manager is changing. Data having taken off the way it is, businesses are investing big time in data initiatives and today’s managers need to have a multi layered skill set that allows them to get their hands dirty in data. They need to be able to understand data and they need to be able to use this data to identify business problems and find creative solutions to them.

Can you throw some light on data explosion and how companies can use  analytics to improve their business.

The data explosion has created an opportunity for businesses in a way we could not have predicted two decades ago. To date approximately 4.4 zettabytes of data exist in our digital universe. Thanks to newer, smarted tools and technologies in the data industry, we can collect and store data more cheaply than before and in volumes that are truly unfathomable. Also the means to then churn and garner insights from this data, is easier and more economical today, thus even allowing small to mid sized companies the opportunity to use analytics to improve their business.

The increase in social media and the rise of the digital era enabling shopping, e-learning and  e-payments, has people inadvertently sharing so much more information about themselves. They are in turn expecting a level of personalized service businesses are not used to. Only analytics gives businesses the chance to improve their service and response times, and offer solutions that can radicalize business processes and increase profits.

How managers can lead in promoting a data culture within their teams with the help of analytics?

The mantra for the data age is ‘What you can’t measure, you can’t improve”. Managers need to understand in real terms what the current state of their business is. Only then can they work to change things. Analytics also allows managers to see the results of their initiatives, whether something is working or not. By measuring every action, they can choose to discontinue what is not working and instead foster sustained success by focusing on what is positively impacting the bottom line and bringing in more customers who are ready to build longer lasting relationships.

Analytics transcends beyond product marketing and manufacturing. It can be used in finance, supply chain, media, development; the list is endless. And the other human dimension-People analytics, has businesses hiring and retaining their most valuable asset, ‘their employees’ in a much more effective and efficient manner.

In essence, analytics gives managers information that helps them understand What happened in the past? What is happening now?  What will happen in the future? The insights garnered help them understand How & why did it happened? What’s the next best action? What is the best case / worst-case situation?

So in effect all managers today are also data leaders. They are the people to take a lead in promoting a data culture within their teams and help build a stronger data focused business.

When talking about analytics, what are some of these practices or techniques a business manager should master?

First of all, familiarity with a range of diverse analytics tools is essential. It is essential for Data leaders to have an integrated analyst skill set. Though the language of SAS has been popular over the years, today tools like R and Hadoop have gained popularity.  The fact is that businesses are using a combination of tools and technologies for data analysis. Hence it would be wise to develop expertise in a few of the popular ones.

Managers also need to be familiar with some visualization techniques and be business savvy. This is essential so as to be able to interpret and understand data, fully comprehending the implications of the data insights to the business. In addition data managers need to be collaborative, curious, with a constant thirst for learning.

Can you explain your role as a COO in fostering analytics skills/culture.
 
Fostering analytic skill and culture is possible only when the top management takes an interest in it. At Jigsaw, both Gaurav (CEO and co-founder) and myself have worked in analytics roles for over 10 years each, and strongly believe in the power of data driven decision making. At Jigsaw, a lot of effort goes into process and data collection, and the team constantly uses the data for generating new ideas for courses, improving course delivery, excelling at customer satisfaction, and for smarter decision making.
 
Please tell us about Jigsaw’s contribution in this space.

Jigsaw is helping to bridge the gap between the dearth and the demand for trained individuals  or corporate participants in relevant analytical skills. We train our students in Big Data so these people become professionals and work-ready with the most widely used technologies  and tools used in Big Data processing and analysis after taking up our courses. We believe in training people on industry-relevant tools and technologies so they can hit the ground running. Therefore our students  gain hands-on experience on a variety of tools by working with large real-life business data sets in the virtual environment. We at Jigsaw, passionately believe that the future of analytics is poised to soar and that we will play a crucial role in identifying and nurturing analytic talent worldwide.

How do you perceive a data-driven future?

The future we look at is one where data will rule us. Information about every interaction – man to man, man to machine, and machine to machine, will be collected and will warrant new and improved means of data storage, collection and analysis.