A key challenge facing companies today isn’t the collection and management of customer data but, rather, its analysis. While technologies like Hadoop and Azure make it easier to collect large amounts of data from multiple customer touch points, much of this data’s potential is largely untapped. To keep up with the quantity of new information, companies need well-trained, analytics-savvy employees who can spot trends, identify inefficiencies, and create strategic action plans to put this rich customer information into use.
In a 2013 survey by the American Management Association, 75% of the companies responding reported that they were ill-equipped to meet current analytics needs. Their biggest issue was turning the mountains of data into actionable insights. Significant growth in analytics skills through training, leadership and developing a culture of learning is necessary to meet current and future demands.
Through leadership and a 3-stage action plan, companies can get on a path to building required analytical skills. Employees should be introduced to advanced tools and technologies for data analysis, learn how to manipulate and view the data in multiple ways and then, most importantly, apply these newly acquired skills to strategic decisions on real projects.
Tackling the Big Data Learning Curve:
- Introduce learners to key data management and analytics technologies
- Teach beginner to advanced data analysis and visualization skills using Excel, Python, R and more
- Use advanced course programs to help employees apply data science to real projects
Learning the technologies is the first step. While employees are likely familiar with Excel, they may not have learned the program’s more advanced data analysis capabilities. It is important to take their skills beyond basic functions and pivot tables to features like importing data from multiple sources and creating data visualizations. Beyond Excel, employees should learn the Python and R programming languages as well as SQL, all excellent tools for working with large datasets.
These key analytics programs and tools as well as many more can be learned online, often in only a few hours per week, with a variety of courses that pair expert video instruction with hands-on application. Online courses on edX from Microsoft, Columbia, Harvard and other top institutions are helping companies tackle the big data learning curve and develop essential new skill sets with courses designed to help learners retain knowledge through continuous practice and interactive challenges. Analytics learners get to solve real-world data problems in fun and challenging programs, often with personalized feedback.
Lastly, while being able to manage data and create visualizations is an essential part of your team’s analytics journey, the application of the data is the crown jewel. This is where you enter the realm of actionable insights and transform your workforce into data-driven decision makers. Advanced data science courses, available on-demand on edX, will challenge your employee’s problem solving and critical thinking skills through the application of data science solutions to projects in intelligent application design and machine learning.