Beyond Big Data Skills: Creating the Right DNA for the Managers of the Data-driven Business World

Advice to schools and universities to help them prepare the future managers of the data-driven business world. One key step is to get managers acquainted with data by touching data, manipulating it, and ‘playing’ with it.

The big data bubble has popped out revealing the inherent reality that lay within: the advent of a new business paradigm – data-driven business. Data is pervading organizations thus fundamentally changing their nature and functioning. As a consequence, the main mechanism that fuels the life of organizations, decision making, is being significantly impacted by the central role played by data. In other words, big data is gradually redefining the job of managers by incorporating data into decision processes.

For universities and educational institutions, the question is now to determine what they shall do in order to better prepare future managers to effectively evolve within this new data-driven business world.

No mythical beasts but rather data-driven professionals.

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A few years ago, when some organizations started realizing the potential of analyzing big data, they thought that a clever and talented individual could alone unleash the power of big data and do wonders. The quest for the mythical five-legged sheep that master statistics, computer science, and business, started; making the data scientist job one of the sexiest in the world. There is no doubt that there exists extremely talented individuals whose profile is close to the data scientist ideal. Nonetheless, examples showing that the ‘data scientist can do it all’ model does not work, abound. In this new data-driven business world, it is not one person that must be different but it is rather organizations as a whole and their overall functioning that must change.

New DNA and not new skills

There is a wealth of new technologies and tools around big data. Highest paying IT jobs ask for specific skills in NoSQL, Apache Hadoop, Python… Besides, starting from the function of Chief Data Officer, an array of new big data-related jobs have appeared in organizations such as data scientist, data analyst, data visualizer, big data solutions architect, big data engineer, big data consultant… to name but a few. However, by considering that behind the big data frenzy hides the looming shift towards a data-driven business era, the big data skill shortage goes way beyond the figures compiled by experts’ reports. In this new data-driven business era, big data must become a mindset that is ingrained into all employees’ DNA. This is all the more important for managers from any hierarchical level as no matter their decision scope (top, middle or operational), data and big data is becoming an inherent part of the inner mechanisms that govern the functioning of organizations: decision making.

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