With Big Data becoming increasingly critical for sound decision making, middle-level managers will be under pressure to build their analytical skills, according to a study sponsored by American Management Association (AMA). Conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, the study examined trends in corporate use of Big Data along with answering the question “what are analytical skills.” The global survey included nearly 800 respondents from more than 50 industries. Among other issues, the study asked participants to assess the analytical skills of their employees by job level.
“The study found that senior executives and, not surprisingly, functional experts are thought to have the most highly-developed analytical skills,” said AMA’s Senior Vice President Robert G. Smith. “But the broad mid-levels of today’s organizations still have a way to go. So the training focus should be for all individuals who make business decisions to become more proficient at dealing with the ever-growing stream of data available.”
Creating An Analytical Culture
According to Smith, organizations seeking peak performance need to create an analytical culture and devote resources to attain this objective. “The stakes have never been higher, and companies know they must be more analytical. It’s not so much a question of skills alone as it is an across the board culture change. Developing analytical skills at the middle-level will pay off not only in the short term, but also as managers advance within the organization.” Smith explained that becoming adept means being able to see the full potential of Big Data—to know what questions to ask, to learn how to leverage data for competitive advantage, and how to work effectively with true experts and consultants. “This means having a mix of skills, both quantitative and qualitative, and being able to analyze information, create an action plan, and deal with complex issues.”
“We also learned from the research that more companies plan to ramp up the skills of their workforce through training than build proficiency through hiring additional analytics staff,” noted Smith. “Organizations plan to invest in the talent they have and we see this as a sign that management clearly understands the importance of all levels of the workforce holding strong analytical skills.”
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