Data proficiency now more important than a second language, according to European business leaders

Alteryx research reveals businesses in the UK, France, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands now expect new hires to be proficient with data over other key skills

London, UK, September 7, 2016 — Data and analytics skills could be more important in business than industry experience, management experience, or a second language, new research from Alteryx has revealed.

The Business Grammar Report, commissioned by the leader in self-service data analytics, surveyed over 500 European business leaders and found that almost a third (30%) consider data and analytics skills to be the most important skill or capability for a potential new employee. France places the most importance on data and analytics for new hires, with 37% citing it as the top skill. 59% of European business leaders consider data/analytics to be one of the two most important skills for new employees, compared with only 28% feeling the same way about multi-lingualism.

Out of IT and into line of business users
Alteryx research found that the shift in the importance placed on data and analytics has also been reflected in the way businesses manage and interact with data. Recognising that data can no longer be confined to the IT department or technical specialists, the study uncovered that only 15% of European business leaders across the five countries leave data analysis to an IT or centralised business intelligence team, while 29% reported that they are empowering business users with self-service analytics tools. The UK leads the way in business user empowerment, with a third of businesses (34%) currently harnessing self-service analytics tools. France and Germany are blazing a trail when it comes to advanced analytics, with almost half of businesses in each country (47% and 46%, respectively) embracing it right now.

Data analytics is now considered so integral to business that four out of five European business leaders surveyed feel that data analytics should be a compulsory part of all MBA programmes. The opinion was particularly marked in the Netherlands and Germany, where 88% and 87%, respectively, are in favour of this approach.

"Our research found that European business leaders would be willing to offer a 36% higher salary to someone who is data proficient over one who isn't," commented Stuart Wilson, VP EMEA, Alteryx, Inc. "The change in attitude that's taking place in boardrooms today shows the value of being data-savvy and how important it is that effective analytics are made available to business users. It makes sense to equip every business analyst with self-service tools that allow them to ask questions of their data."

Driving data decisions
Decisions about how data is looked after are spreading throughout organisations. In total, 42% of those surveyed reported that decisions about how data is accessed, integrated and analysed still lie with the IT team, but 30% reported this is the purview of departmental leaders and 25% attributed this responsibility to the executive leadership. Furthermore, 67% feel it's become easier to get the data needed for decision making over the last year. Almost a third (31%) of Dutch businesses look to their executive leadership for decisions about data access, integration, and analysis, whereas this is only the case in 15% of French companies. In fact, French IT teams still take the lead with data management and analysis decisions according to 51% of respondents, compared with 31% in Denmark. Departmental leaders are the most likely to make these decisions in Denmark, taking the lead 40% of the time, compared with only 24% of UK departmental leaders.

"Most organisations depend on the IT department or business intelligence team for analytics-based decision-making, but things are changing. European business leaders are demanding more agile and flexible insight. Organisations can boost the speed and quality of analytics by adopting a "DIY approach" and providing self-service analytics tools," Wilson explained.

"In the last few years, we have seen tremendous change in the data landscape," commented Andy Cotgreave, senior technical evangelist at Tableau. "We've moved from a place where data was hidden away in the darkest corners of an organisation to a point where it can be harnessed by almost anyone. Every business user has the opportunity to uncover value in data, and the research from Alteryx shows this has been recognised at all levels in European organisations.

"Data has opened up competition in the modern business world — we know that the answers companies want are out there, waiting to be discovered. The winners are those organisations which equip and educate their teams to find and share them," Cotgreave continued.

Challenges remain
The research highlighted that a number of challenges still exist around data analytics in business. When it comes to getting the data needed for decisions, incomplete data is the biggest problem for 41% of those surveyed. (This is particularly true in Germany, with 53% reporting it as their biggest obstacle). Just under half (48%) of the time, data received from another department or business division needs to be cleaned, repaired, or re-organised before it's ready for analysis. This problem is particularly true of the Netherlands, where it's an issue 54% of the time. Only a quarter (26%) of European business leaders report that their teams have all the data they need in one place, with almost half (46%) reporting that they use data from more than five separate sources for decision making. Less than a third of Danish teams surveyed (30%) are drawing on five data sources or more for their analysis, compared with 56% of French and 51% of Dutch businesses.

ENDS

Notes to editors
The research consists of findings from a survey of over 500 senior business decision makers across the UK, France, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands, undertaken in June 2016. Participants were manager or director level. Commissioned by Alteryx, the research was conducted by independent business consulting firm, Morar. The Business Grammar Report can be accessed here.

Additional findings from the research, of those surveyed:

  • 96% of European business leaders surveyed currently use data and analytics to make or contribute to business decisions.
  • 94% of those surveyed consider data analytics to be important to decision making in their role. In two years, 37% expect it to be essential, compared with 29% today.
  • Over half of the business decisions currently being made (58%) require data to be effective, but respondents currently feel that two in every five of these decisions aren't supported by enough data.
    • French business leaders are making the most data-driven decisions, stating that almost two thirds of their decisions (64.2%) require data to be effective.
  • Two thirds of respondents (66%) report that expectations from management teams have increased over the last three years, when it comes to the amount of data used to drive decisions.
    • Increased management expectations are most prevalent in Germany and France, with 72% and 71% reporting this respectively.
  • Four in every five business leaders in these countries (79%) would be willing to offer a higher salary to someone who is data proficient, in fact they are willing to offer a 36% average pay increase to secure the right candidate.
    • In France, 87% would offer a higher salary to someone who is data proficient.
    • A third of Danish business leaders consider proficiency in working with and analysing data to be essential for new hires, and the Netherlands and Denmark lead when it comes to pay generosity, with a willingness to offer an average salary increase of 43% and 41%, respectively, for data proficient new hires.
  • Data visualisation is used by half of French businesses for their analysis, far outstripping Germany and the UK (38% and 37%, respectively), and contrasting with only 29% of Dutch businesses and 24% of Danish companies.
  • Excel spreadsheets are still the most popular way to share analysis internally, used by 47% of respondents. Static reports are the second most popular, with 38% using them, while visualisation tools were third at 25%.
    • Less than a third of businesses in the Netherlands or Denmark share the results of analysis using spreadsheets (30% and 32% respectively).

About Alteryx, Inc.
Alteryx is the leader in self-service data analytics. Alteryx Analytics provides analysts with the unique ability to easily prep, blend and analyze all of their data using a repeatable workflow, then deploy and share analytics at scale for deeper insights in hours, not weeks. Analysts love the Alteryx Analytics platform because they can connect to and cleanse data from data warehouses, cloud applications, spreadsheets and other sources, easily join this data together, then perform analytics — predictive, statistical and spatial — using the same intuitive user interface, without writing any code. Thousands of companies and data analysts worldwide rely on Alteryx daily. Visit www.alteryx.com or call +44 020 3457 0432.

Alteryx is a registered trademark of Alteryx, Inc. All other product and brand names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

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