The analytics industry is fast-paced. New technologies, innovations and vendors provide a dynamic and ever-shifting landscape for data-driven businesses to navigate.
So, to successfully level-up in data and analytics maturity and maintain excellence, organisations must ride this wave of change and constantly adopt new ways of working and technology.
It’s paramount to prioritise the learning and development of analytics-related skills. However, many organisations still see training programmes as a one-off, tick-box exercise, isolated from the broader strategic goals of the business and managed by individual teams or governed by a HR department.
While organisations understand the rate of constant change within data and analytics, they must also appreciate the need for continual assessment, training and learning needs. Identifying the needs of employees and the organisation must then feed into the design of training programmes and syllabi appropriate to business objectives.
There are some core principles that sit behind any learning and development strategy, and these must be kept in mind in order for such a strategy to be successful. They are designed to ensure that a programme brings benefit both to employer and employee, giving transparent, accessible development opportunities to all levels involved.
1. Make it regular
As you might have surmised from the introduction, regularity is key when it comes to learning and development, especially so in the data and analytics sector. It needs to become a staple of your data-driven approach, accessible to new starters and existing employees who need to refresh or advance their knowledge and skills.
This training can come from internal or external specialists, experts who can be used to disseminate insights and learning to employees at all levels of your organisation, empowering them to stay engaged and up-to-date as the analytics landscape evolves. Even if your employees are experts in data analysis, rapid changes in the industry could see their knowledge become out of date, so regular, targeted training is a must for your organisation to remain data mature.
2. Make it measurable
You need to measure the impact and effectiveness of your training programme. Encourage the use of certifications and test skills regularly to instill a ‘challenge & reward’ culture. In this way, employees will see their professional development celebrated and allow them to explore new areas for expansion of their skillsets across new technologies and tools. Industry recognised awards and certifications are important, however, internal initiatives that are designed to reward staff with special designations should also be celebrated and awarded.
It’s also important to allow employees to fail productively through their training, taking learning experiences on board for future application and adjustment. However you do it, make sure you can track the impact of your training programme, so you can make adjustments to deliver value to employees over time.
3. Make it targeted
Incorporate training for all levels and disciplines throughout your organisation. Data and analytics touches almost all roles within business, but a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. You need to tailor your analytics training programme so it delivers maximum value to all who use analytics – whether it be a highly skilled data analyst or a front line worker who can be more efficient by interpreting data presented to them.
Encourage diverse thinking and approaches to training and instil a focus on progression. To do this, you’ll need to engage an array of specialists who can focus on different areas of strength throughout the business (such as business engagement, business context, data management, data visualisation and data science). This means that, as well as training your employees on analytics tools and skills, they need to be training on business literacy.
4. Make it transparent
To generate buy-in from employees, make sure you’re regularly promoting your training plan and ensure that the syllabus is transparent and scheduled. This means highlighting the purpose and benefit of your training programme so that employees know the value they’ll receive, in terms of professional learning and development.
If employees know what they are going to be learning and why, they’ll be more invested, able to see it relates to their roles and the business as a whole. Not everyone needs to attend every session, but if there are specific areas they need to level up on, you should let them know the training is available and what it’ll bring to different roles within the organisation.
5. Draft in professionals where needed
As we briefly touched on before, you can also draft in external professionals when necessary. Whatever the expertise of your in-house trainers, there are sure to be areas that external experts can bring value.
Part of being a truly data mature organisation is being outward-facing, understanding the industry you’re operating in and learning from it. By drafting in professionals from outside, or encouraging your employees to attend conferences, seminars, user groups and events, you can ensure ongoing engagement with the broader analytics landscape and a richer development curve.
A consciously and effectively designed data and analytics training programme, as we’ve established, can deliver real value to your business, boosting the skills and capabilities available at all levels and accelerating success. Use these tips to guide you as you seek to instil a data-driven learning and development culture in your teams.
This article is part of our Data-Driven SMB series. For more information, advice and resources on how to accelerate your organisation’s data and analytics maturity, click here or contact us today.
Max has a background in Business Intelligence, Analytics and Data Warehousing with over 12 years in the field. He leads the delivery of enterprise level Analytics projects with a mix of technical and consulting elements at Truecue. He has been working across a multitude of industries and strives to get business value and insight out of each project, he enjoys the challenge of solving data problems with the intention of delighting our customers.