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Upskilling across core data wrangling activities

How improving your people’s digital skills can address today’s data-handling demands and help you innovate

Even before the pandemic, many global companies were already implementing big data strategies, integrating all manner of structured and unstructured data into decision-making and day-to-day operations. Those that didn’t have such strategies quickly realized that the ability to efficiently collect, clean, structure, and validate data from various sources so it can be analyzed to help boost the business is no longer optional.

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Business leaders are eager to tap into the potential of big data to drive decision-making and uncover deeper insights into market trends, customer behavior, and even customer intent. Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can power predictive analytics that help companies get ahead of risks and plan more proactively. 

You could outsource the varied skills needed to wrangle all this data from multiple sources. Another—perhaps better—option is to develop these skills in your current workforce. In many cases this will likely be more efficient because your people are already close to your data and live and breathe your business objectives.

Enlisting your workforce to address big data challenges 

To be sure your people have the right skills— and the ability to apply them to do better work— companies must give them the training they need and encourage a continuous learning mindset. Business leaders recognize the need for digital skills. In PwC’s 23nd Annual Global CEO Survey, 74% of global chief executives said a lack of key skills threatens their business growth. The next step is to fill that skills gap.

Not everyone can become a data scientist, but you can augment employees’ existing expertise so they can integrate data analysis into their work, automate tedious, manual tasks with robotic process automation (RPA), and apply AI to help analyze data faster and more accurately. Rounding out your people’s newfound digital know-how with softer skills, like leadership, creativity, problem-solving and cross-functional collaboration, is also key.

A blend of digital and “soft” skills is vital to managing and using big data across all business functions. Here’s an example: Finance professionals pull data from various systems –– like treasury or banking software –– to help make predictions and guide a company’s financial decisions. Meanwhile, marketing experts use different data to better understand and target customer’s needs while creatively advertising goods or services.  

Just as you can use data to improve the customer experience and business performance, you can do the same for the employee experience, deepening your people's engagement with their work and reducing churn. A continuous learning mindset and access to training in digital skills allows your people to solve problems more creatively, increasing productivity and competitive advantage.

With the right skills, everyone in your organization can do their jobs better. Just don’t forget that in addition to new skills, your people need to feel empowered to apply this knowledge freely.

Give people ownership over their own upskilling 

It takes a leap of faith for many leaders, but employees who are given the freedom to decide what new skills to learn and how to put them to work are more likely to become true innovators. As a bonus, employees become more engaged in their work. You also help establish (or strengthen) a company culture that celebrates diversity of experiences and makes it safe to experiment and fail.

When it comes to harnessing the potential of big data, citizen-led innovation can be especially effective. 

To encourage citizen-led innovation, leaders need to offer employees more than just strategic direction and incentives. When you give your people an invitation — and motivation — to innovate, bolstered by and a high level of support that includes protected time for learning and experimentation, you can build a better workforce.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we need employees at all levels in all functions who have not only the digital skills required in an ever-changing business environment, but also the confidence to use them in bold new ways.

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

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