Combine education and simpler tools to reduce data management skills gap

graduatesGartner’s recent prediction that the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) will soon spend more on IT than the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is based on the ongoing shift towards the data driven enterprise. As marketing, and other business decisions, move away from ‘seat of the pants’ decision-making to factual assessments based on big data and predictive analytics, the glaring shortage of skilled, data-literate staff is becoming more apparent. [Tweet this]

As the importance of quality data and the insights delivered by analytics have become increasingly clear, so the tools available for enabling these processes are becoming more widely adopted.

IT centric data management tools can be extremely technical and complex, requiring significant training and a high level of technical expertise in order to use.

Business-driven data quality vendors, on the other hand, have recognised the requirement to support business data stewards, and other key stakeholders, through simpler, more intuitive front ends which shift the focus from the technical complexities of the tool to identifying and rectifying underlying data issues. This reduces, or removes, the business dependence on a technical analyst ensuring that business input to improve data quality is effectively implemented.

Similarly, self-service Business Intelligence (BI) and big data discovery solutions are democratising data – placing the tools for decision making in business hands, and reducing the time to insight by providing IT users with quicker, simpler approaches to solving old problems. Simpler tools allow business problems to be solved more quickly and with less support from IT. [Tweet this]

However, while this technological evolution has enabled a change of focus, it has not eliminated the on-going skills shortage within the data industry.

Rather than eliminating the problem, the availability of new and improved tool sets has simply shifted the gap as both business and IT users focus more on data. The skills shortage now exists around a general understanding of the requirements of data management, rather than on the technical know-how required to operate specific technology. Users require a foundation in master data management, data quality, analytics, and other data management skills in order to make best use of the tools.

Data management tools have, in effect, evolved much like the slide rule evolved into the calculator. The calculator is much simpler to understand than the slide rule. However, without a basic understanding of mathematics, no matter how simple a calculator is to use, it will not deliver advanced insight. The same can be said of data quality, data analytics, master data management and any other data-related tool. Once you have shifted from the technically oriented tools of the past then the education challenge shifts from learning how to use the tool to understanding your business and how the tool can be applied to solve your problems

Simpler tools are not the silver bullet – technology is simply an enabler.

Data management requires a combination of the right technology and appropriate education and skills.

In the age of big data, getting this balance right is more important than ever. [Tweet this]

With the increasing relevance of big data and the need to analyse it effectively to gain competitive advantage, addressing this skills gap has become critical.

Big data by its nature is large in volume, diverse in variety and generated at ever-increasing velocity, so the ability to ask the right questions quickly and efficiently is paramount. The majority of training available today focuses on empowering specific technologies, and while knowing how to effectively use tools is important, it is not the only aspect required. Data management training is essential in enabling organisations to use technology to effectively solve business problems, which is where the value lies.

With a solid foundation of data skills, and a partner with a combination of self-service technology and data management skills, organisations will be able to effectively harness the power of sophisticated data toolsets to derive insight and competitive edge for their business.

For more information on available training around data skills from global experts, visit

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3 thoughts on “Combine education and simpler tools to reduce data management skills gap

  1. Good read. Data-driven decision making will be one of the key factors in changing the future of business. There is so much great work being done with data management and data quality tools in various industries such as financial services and health care. It will be interesting to see the impact of these changes down the road.

    Linda Boudreau

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