Request demo

Five unexpected departments that need upskilling

The importance of data upskilling

If employees understand data, automation and skills they’ll need in the future, they can make a big impact — both within their departments and in the organization as a whole. But many companies consider data skills to be IT’s domain, so they may miss out on the value of upskilling non-tech workers.

“74% of CEOs say a lack of key skills is threatening the future growth of their organization.” [1]

How does upskilling benefit employees?

When employees understand automation, visualization or agile project management, they’re more empowered to control their own work outcomes, which will likely lead to increased job satisfaction and professional growth. 

How does upskilling benefit the organization?

When people have the tools to exercise creative thinking and resolve problems, the organization can see higher productivity, deeper and faster insights – and more innovation.

“The upskilling experience involves learning how to think, act and thrive in a digital world that’s sustainable over time.” [2]

Three key upskilling areas – defined

  • Data preparation involves processing raw data to remove errors, normalizing data formats and structuring it to be used for business purposes. This includes loading data, data fusion, data cleaning, data augmentation and data delivery. 

  • Design thinking is an iterative process that teams use to put themselves in the shoes of users and find innovative solutions to problems.

  • Agile project management delivers a project through several iterations from start to end, which helps companies move faster and experience the benefits of a project before its completion.

These departments benefit from upskilling more than you might think

1. Finance

Finance, tax and accounting professionals use data to make predictions and guide the financial direction of the company. 

How finance gets its data: From ERP, accounting, CRM, sales forecasting, risk management, financial reporting, treasury, banking and more. Risks of continuing non-standard data preparation: 

  • Poor risk management

  • Broken audit trails

  • Inaccuracies in data and insights

Benefits of investing in upskilling: 

  • Faster data cleaning and integration

  • Better compliance (e.g., fewer errors, higher quality)

  • Faster time to insights

2. Marketing operations

Marketing professionals use data to understand their customers. Marketers who understand the insights derived from data can use them to better target the right customers at the right time – and stay ahead of the competition.

How marketing gets its data: From CRM, sales forecasting, marketing automation, web analytics, CMS, email, social media monitoring, bid management, event marketing, webinar/webcasting and more. 

Risks of continuing non-standard data preparation: 

  • Missing customer and campaign insights

  • Operating with less agility than competitors

  • Investing in the wrong campaigns or channels

Benefits of investing in upskilling:

  • Better market positioning

  • More wallet share in your space

  • Justifying the need for budget

  • Validating ROI of investments 

  • Leading projects with agile project management

  • Solving problems with design thinking

“Marketers who understand data can use it to fuel their creativity and stay ahead of the competition.”

3. Human resources (HR)

HR professionals use data to collect information on employee behavior in order to identify patterns that can lead to a better understanding of engagement, turnover and other metrics.

How HR gets its data: From HR management, healthcare management, learning platforms, background/reference checks, onboarding and more.

Risks of continuing non-standard data preparation: 

  • Inability to track and understand turnover

  • Employment-related lawsuits around data collection

  • Inability to track and understand labor costs (e.g., increases)

Benefits of investing in upskilling:

  • Attracting and retaining talent

  • Discovering workforce trends and future needs

  • Evaluating staff efficiently

  • Ability to connect people to each other and the company

4. Operations

Operations professionals use data to help reduce inefficiencies and streamline the way a business is run.

How operations gets its data: From business management, ERP, demand planning, log management, asset management, project management and more.

Risks of continuing non-standard data preparation: 

  • Duplicative systems

  • Multiple data standards

  • Inability to monetize data efficiently 

Benefits of investing in upskilling:

  • Faster data cleaning and integration

  • More robust data security

  • Cost savings

  • More efficient projects with agile project management

5. Information technology (IT)

Most IT professionals have the skills to process data and build automations. But even IT can benefit from upskilling. Their data skills can make a bigger impact when combined with soft skills that promote creativity, collaboration and innovation.

How IT gets its data: From IT management, project management, security monitoring, log management, asset management, network monitoring and more.

Risks of continuing non-standard data preparation:

  • Inappropriate data use (leading to errors, security or compliance issues)

  • Communication breakdown among teams 

Benefits of investing in upskilling:

  • Innovation through soft skills, like design thinking

  • Iterative project development through agile project management

  • Ability to better collaborate with sales, marketing and project teams

“IT’s data skills can make a bigger impact when combined with soft skills that promote creativity and innovation.”

Start upskilling your employees today

Having to call IT for help with data slows your access to insights and can diminish innovation.

In contrast, when you give your people the tools they need, they’ll be more productive, purposeful and satisfied. 

Build a learning culture with PwC ProEdge, the revolutionary way to upskill your people and prepare your organization for tomorrow. This unique platform allows you to pinpoint critical skill gaps and effectively help close them with automatically generated personalized learning pathways. ProEdge makes upskilling easy and enables employees to free up time for strategic thinking and innovation. ProEdge enables your people to perform at their highest level—giving them the power to help transform your entire organization.


1 PwC's 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey

2 Moritz, Bob, and Carol Stubbings. “Preparing Everyone, Everywhere, for the Digital World.” Accessed December 3, 2020.

Download eBook here

Take the first step on a new path toward transforming both your organization and the learning experience of your employees.

Related articles