Home Digital Strong data skills to support transformation: why the newest normal needs to integrate shifting priorities
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Strong data skills to support transformation: why the newest normal needs to integrate shifting priorities

by jcp

Richard Timperlake, Vice President, EMEA at Alteryx

From decimated semiconductor supply chains, to shortages of skilled and unskilled employees across the UK, we are firmly in the midst of the largest business disruption in living memory. Decades of blue-sky thinking – stripping away resiliency and agility to maximise profits and reduce costs – has resulted in a period of gilded precarity.

New PwC research noted that, globally, a huge 70% of businesses have been negatively impacted by the recent Covid-linked disruption. Notably, the research found that 95% of business leaders said their crisis management capabilities – including the development of “organisational resilience” – need improvement to weather the next crisis. McKinsey further notes that speed of decision-making is intrinsically linked to better business results, with better fiscal results coming from more regular: assessing of unmet customer needs; dedicating time to learning about digital technology and upskilling; and sharing learnings and educating across the organisation.

Previously, organisations have been slow at the uptake of both digital transformation and associated data upskilling efforts. With Covid, we saw businesses hit pause on any non-critical undertakings as the entire world shifted – where possible – to remote work, condensing decades of change into just a few months but halting other projects entirely. As organisations reassess these undertakings – progressing with the essentials and allowing vanity projects to fall to the wayside – we now have the opportunity to truly build back better.

Reassessing priorities under the newest normal:

Under the grips of the pandemic, business leaders have had an opportunity to assess priorities. The unessential has fallen away, and the vital has been revealed. Organisations have seen just how essential it is to, firstly, be able to make fast and intelligent decisions based on data and, secondly the ability to be able to effectively react to those insights. Both are required in tandem.

While some businesses have discovered the value of analytics in making this change a reality, many more are yet to dip a toe into making decisions through data rather than gut instinct. Our own research, however, raises a number of questions around the true alignment of business strategy and the skills to bring these goals to life.

The independent research commissioned by Alteryx – surveying 3,000 data workers in the UK, France and Germany – found that a promising three quarters (73%) classify their data skills as “above average”. When questioned further, just a third were confident in their ability to complete basic data tasks – to identify trustworthy data (32%), to clean data (34%), or to even share data securely (38%).

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