Why am I writing about “big data?” The answer is simple: Big data isn’t huge — it’s massive. By 2020, the digital universe will grow to hold 44 trillion gigabytes of data, a result of data amounts more than doubling every two years. As information from digital platforms such as wireless sensors, virtual reality applications and billions of mobile phones increases, so does the data storage capacity. Simultaneously, the cost of this storage has decreased. Data shapes the world in which we live in every way possible.
As a business, leadership and career expert, I increasingly find myself working with technology professionals who are answering this expanding need. With the seemingly endless potential of Big Data, it is not surprising that data scientists who have the skill to harness its potential are some of today’s best-paid professionals, earning an average of $130,000 per year. Why so highly compensated?
In coaching and corporate leadership, data is becoming increasingly important. Complementing business leadership teams tasked with crafting company strategy, data scientists could provide insights that can inspire decisions that would create competitive advantage. Taking advantage of insights from data can reduce risk and increase organizational efficiency through improvements. We embrace data-driven decision making for the future of work and leadership in our organizations, but for a company to fully adopt this practice, the culture of the firm must support it.
Create A Culture Of Data
Creating a data-driven culture for an organization is more than just having a team of data scientists. To enable data scientists to do their job, management must be willing to invest time and money into building infrastructure, acquiring technology and providing relevant business leadership training. This includes a management team that understands the methods of big data, data analytics and data science. Most importantly, management must understand that the results are only as good as the decision makers themselves.
Since the future of work revolves around data, organization-wide access to data and insights must be provided to facilitate decision making. Then, decision makers do not have to wait for analysis or reports by the data science team. With the data exposed to more employees, more perspectives could increase fresh and groundbreaking insights on a given business challenge.
Incorporate Data Into All Positions
As data becomes increasingly important, organizations are embracing the changing business environment by adding new senior roles such as Chief Data Officer or Chief Analytics Officer. Although this is a step in the right direction, it can’t stop here. You must have future-thinking leadership throughout the organization and look for data-focused talent. Hiring data-focused talent in areas of your business in roles one does not typically associate with data — such as sales and marketing positions — can massively impact the future of your organization. To make such a company shift happen efficiently, leadership from human resources must be brought to the planning table, so they understand the business requirements in this area.
With data accessible to the whole organization, management should take it a step further by encouraging experimentation. To make this initiative more efficient, employees should be shown how to test and measure the data. In this way, with measures of accountability and reward in place, employees and decision makers have the incentive to make data-driven decisions.
Communication Between Data Scientists And Management
There are limitations to the role of data in your organization. Managers do not have the extensive expertise of data scientists in mining and analyzing data. In the same way, data scientists do not have the extensive knowledge managers have in solving business problems. Through effective communication techniques, both parties must work together and seek to understand each other in order for data to create positive outcomes for the organization and its decisions. Targeted business leadership training emphasizing communication combined with the technical knowledge is instrumental to the organization’s success.
Lastly, management must direct the whole effort of managing data science toward problem-solving endeavors. Data analysis provides insights that must be acted upon to make the process worthwhile. There should be complete objectivity in discussing these ideas, and they must be complemented by the expertise and experience of the management team.
Businesses that place great importance on using data for a competitive advantage will emerge as tomorrow’s successes. Smart company leaders realize that without the right data-driven talent and culture, they will be left behind in a business landscape in which organizations embracing data are winning.
Despite the title, a career as a data scientist doesn’t require a Ph.D. However, today’s multifaceted data scientist is a combination of several critical business skills. While mathematical and analytical expertise is required, intellectual curiosity, business acumen and strong communication skills are no less significant. In my opinion as a career and business leadership coach, this is what makes this new career opportunity so attractive.