Closing The Analytics Skills Gap

by Sohini Bagchi    Apr 01, 2014


Big data and analytics is becoming the top business priority today. While its potentials are huge, there is still a skills gap existing in the industry. In an exclusive interaction with CXOtoday, Noshin Kagalwalla, Managing Director, SAS Institute (India) discusses the trends and opportunities in big data analytics in India, as well as throws light on how the organization is actively closing the analytics skills gap.

 Which industries are witnessing high adoption rates of analytics in India? Why?

It has been observed that businesses implementing big data analytics solutions are faring better than their counterparts because they can derive business value by analyzing the humongous data volume, which ultimately impacts the bottomline in a positive way. In India, where there is a huge population and several businesses and industries, big data analytics has a huge growth potential. However, the adoption of big data across several verticals started only recently, though it will accelerate faster than many economies. One of the early adopters of analytics solutions was the banking industry, where even 10 years ago, there were some elements of business analytics in place, often in the BI/data warehousing area to derive value from customer data. Gradually industries such as manufacturing, telecom, healthcare, insurance etc joined the bandwagon much later. The government is also using big data analytics for its various projects in recent times and what’s more encouraging this that smaller companies are joining the fray and across verticals such as e-commerce, retail, logistics to name a few. While in India analytics functions started with units such as making CRM, SCM and other internal systems productive, the focus today is also on unstructured data from video, social media and other sources – deriving value out of those data and gain business value.

Despite the optimism, skill gap remains a key problem in analytics. What are your views on this and how can big data analytics skill gap be reduced?

Selecting the right people for the analytics job is essential and there is certainly a skill gap in analytics. But the gap will eventually get reduced. To reduce the skill gap, organizations such as SAS are collaborating with academic partners to develop curriculum that reflects the mix of technical and problem-solving skills that is necessary to prepare candidates for Big Data and analytics careers, across all industries. These collaborations span a variety of areas including business, marketing, mathematics providing B-schools with access to SAS’ analytics software, curriculum materials, case study projects, and expertise.

How should organizations leverage big data and analytics collectively to achieve business objectives?

In order to correctly implement an effective Big Data program, businesses must embed the concept deep into their organizations’ culture and practice. Decision makers and leaders from across the business must play a participatory role in the process to ensure that information and insights are shared across business units and functions. One of the key requisite is that businesses should identify their applicable areas when they decide to implement big data analytics. For example, businesses should first understand whether it is about information management, fraud management, employee productivity or customer engagement. The end goal should be deriving business value out of this data.

How has the adoption of analytics in industries such healthcare been so far? What are the key benefits of using analytics in healthcare?

Healthcare is one of the early industries to have adopted and is in the process of embracing analytics to derive business value. The volume and variety of data generated by the healthcare industry are growing at a rapid pace. From life sciences to pharmaceuticals and hospital management, this data takes many forms. These include electronic medical records, lab and imaging test results, and physician notes, medical correspondence and insurance claims, to name a few. Big data analytics is helping healthcare providers to collate all of the relevant data available to gain a holistic view of the business. It can help address existing challenges by improving patient care, cutting costs, and making the best use of staff.

How does analytics help organizations in better managing various internal operations, especially Human Resources?

Like several other sectors, analytics has attracted the attention of human resource managers who now can analyze heaps of structured and unstructured data to answer important questions regarding workforce productivity, including acquisition, optimization, paying and developing the workforce of the organization. HR analytics can help to dig problems and issues surrounding these requirements and using analytical workflow and gain insights from information at hand, then make relevant decisions and take appropriate actions. They can analyze the impact of training programs on enterprise performance, predictors of workforce attrition, and how to identify potential leaders and managers in an organization. It ensures a productive workforce and therefore helps the organization in getting a better return on investment.

Going forward which industries will exhibit high demand for analytics in India?

Ultimately every industry will have to adopt big data analytics to draw more insight from large and complex datasets and gain insight about business and customers. As we move forward, there will be a significant traction not only in the large enterprise segment, but also within the small and medium businesses that are upbeat in exhibiting a high demand for analytics in India. As I said earlier, emerging segments such as e-commerce, KPOs and auto-ancillary and many more are realizing how big data and analytics can unlock their business potentials. As a result these and other verticals will increase their investment in analytics to predict future customer behaviors, trends and outcomes.