Recent research commissioned by Alteryx, Data and Analytics in a Digital-First World, shows that while many businesses have data workers in their organization, not all of them have the skills to meet their potential. Many employees are mired in unproductive work using inefficient legacy spreadsheets. The research showed that, of the 78 million advanced spreadsheet users worldwide, workers are losing 106 days annually due to inefficient working practices.
The valuable role of data
The power of data cannot be understated. In our private lives, data insights drive health and wealth. In business, data-driven decisions continue to form the backbone of success. So why shouldn’t data drive our professional careers as well?
There are several challenges at play. Analytics and data automation skills remain in huge demand across the globe, but demand far outstrips supply. There simply aren’t enough trained data scientists. The good news is that you don’t have to have a Ph.D. in data science to create analytics magic.
Poor data knowledge
Business data is everywhere, yet many businesses are in a situation where they have a wealth of data but a poverty of insights. So why do so many organizations still struggle to pull meaningful understandings from their data?
To address this need for a workforce with analytical ability, we launched the Alteryx SparkED Education program last year to help expand data literacy and analytics skills among all learners.
The program provides free data analytics software, with free certifications, to learners of all skill levels. We’ve already helped thousands of students and job seekers secure the certifications to set them up for success in their careers and beyond. The truth is that many of the people that you need are hiding in plain sight. Instead of hiring for a limited number of positions, companies should be looking to upskill existing staff. They should provide them with the tools that enable them to become “fluent in data,” which is increasingly the common language of the business.
Driving data with human intelligence
The good news is that the latest data analytics technologies are many stages removed from the dusty, dry world of spreadsheets. If data fuels twenty-first-century commercial intelligence, then the engine needs to be driven by human intelligence empowered by the right technologies. As with any modern technology, people play a vitally important role in delivering core insights to make business decisions.
SparkED has helped thousands of learners from hundreds of universities across more than 50 countries to become data evangelists through a comprehensive education program that brings the next generation of data analytics into the classroom. In addition to students and educators, the program also enrolls those interested in changing their career paths by leveraging their new data analytics skills. This enables anyone to bolster their CV with in-demand certifications and skills that many businesses look for in their hires.
Training current and future employees
When it comes to educating future and current employees, the question isn’t “should we” or “shouldn’t we.” Instead, it lies in knowing where and how to do it. Accessible analytic technologies enable people from disparate teams and with different mindsets to collaborate, ask questions and solve problems creatively.
Ultimately it is the people of the business, empowered by the technology, who drive success. Without data-literate people, even the best transformation strategy is useless.
Originally appeared on Business & Industry.