You may not realise it but your greatest data ‘asset’ is within your organisation already. It’s ready to crunch data, uncover fresh insights, and speed up your digital transformation. All this, and reduce the burden on your IT department. This ‘asset’ is actually your employees who, with the right training and encouragement, have the potential to become bona fide data practitioners, uncovering data insights using powerful low-code/no-code code platforms.
This combination of data-enabled employees and platforms offers more than just an opportunity to plug the current data skills shortage gap (see below). It also allows organisations to uncover new diverse talent – even future leaders.
Mind the gap
Such an innovative solution can’t come soon enough either. The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation by up to four years, according to a recent McKinsey Global Survey. And the rocket fuel needed to power such transformation? Data, or more specifically, how to wrangle it successfully.
That represents a serious pinch point for many of us thanks to the widening data skills shortage. For instance, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport estimates that data analysis is the fastest-growing skills cluster in tech and is expected to increase by 33% over the next five years. The problem? The data skills gap is estimated to be 14% and will likely only grow.
To address the gap, low-code/no-code code platforms can be used by employees to create tailored data solutions at speed without the need for technical coding skills. Instead, employees can ‘build’ bespoke data solutions via the platform’s streamlined graphic user interface. Solutions can be created to address specific data challenges within the employee’s own department while taking the burden off the IT department so it can focus on company-wide digital projects.
Rockwell Automation, a worldwide leader in industrial automation, is focusing on developing everyone in the organisation with core engineering skills as part of its digital transformation strategy. By skilling teams to use Microsoft Power Platforms to automate and simplify aspects of their role, they are developing the skills and mindset to self-serve their own data as teams and individuals.
Even market-leading organisations such as Databricks are seeing the value of citizen data scientists, demonstrated by their recent acquisition of 8080 Labs. Enabling domain specialists to create no-code workflows that seamlessly integrate into Python ecosystems and cloud platforms which have been developed by analysts and data scientists, helps data cover that final mile, delivering automated insights with a relatively low understanding of data science.
No silver bullet
Of course, low-code/no-code platforms by themselves aren’t the be-all and end-all. No matter how powerful platforms such as Tableau and PowerBI are, any successful data project or process starts with the people charged with creating solutions. If they are not given the skills training and basic data knowledge needed, any resulting solution risks creating more problems than it actually solves. For instance, data dashboards often require the use of complex datasets, which must go through proper validation processes to ensure results are correct and meaningful.
To counteract such issues, employees should be trained in all key aspects of successful data management. This should cover the entire data ‘journey’ from data gathering, architecture, ethics, and validation through to how to develop data stories, and utilise dashboards effectively.
To achieve a successful learning outcome, any data-enablement initiative must have buy-in from the company itself as well. From senior leaders down, organisations should be planning and advocating a new approach to data-driven decisions and developing an understanding of the data skills required by their people to participate effectively.
Developing diverse data talent
Sourcing and supporting the right employees to become ‘data champions’ is also critical as many will have fears about working with data. Their concerns range from engaging with the seemingly impenetrable world of data through to worries about their maths skills being ‘unsuitable’ for developing relevant data skill sets. However, given the right training, employees can be empowered to overcome such self-doubts.
Most importantly, because structured learning breeds confidence, a successful outcome can lead to data-enabled staff becoming increasingly self-assured and seeking to participate in the business more, whereas previously they may have shied away from the spotlight. This transformation in turn leads to a wider, more diverse group of people participating in the decision making of the business as a whole, which gives organisations greater opportunities to spot potential future leaders.
Plot the right course
To unlock such latent potential, many companies are turning to data education providers to deliver the training and reassurance that employees need to make the transition. The provider will offer a structured course for ‘onboarding’ the employee as well as create a talent development strategy for the organisation. This typically includes:
- Developing an understanding of the potential value available in data – and that expertise to deliver insights is essential for an organisation to deliver on data ambitions.
- Helping identify the right diverse employees, i.e., those who are aware of the possibilities of digital transformation – but perhaps lack the skills or confidence to actively engage with data.
- Rolling out a programme that offers step-by-step training to help educate employees in the basics of data and digital transformation – and why engaging in those skills are critical for their future.
- Introducing the correct governance frameworks, stewardship and a culture of ethical data use that all employees can understand and adhere to i.e. what are the things you can do with data? And what shouldn’t you do?
- Aiding an online community for employees to share ideas and projects with support provided by the organisation’s IT department.
Critically, the right education supplier will be able to deliver a training process that qualifies for funding from the UK government’s Apprenticeship Levy, therefore delivering a confident and qualified data-diverse workforce and a win-win for all stakeholders.
Employees can grow within their role and feel more engaged with their company. Meanwhile, an organisation can identify the best possible talent for securing its operations and talent in the short term, all while putting itself in the best possible position to prosper in the future through truly diverse thinking and insights.
If you’re interested in this topic and would like to learn more, please sign up to our upcoming webinar in the Stop the DRIP! series. Alternatively, if you would like to discuss developing your data strategy, please get in touch.