The Decision Maker

Building the Data Analysis Army

Posted by Aaron Wang on Apr 11, 2012 8:59:06 AM

In my last post I commented on an article from the April 2012 Harvard Business Review entitled, Good Data Won’t Guarantee Good Decisions . The article suggested that organizations can benefit from cultivating analytics-savvy employees.

Two things organizations can do to develop such employees are:

  1. Training in data literacy and analysis
  2. Providing effective tools

Improving data literacy means building an organizational knowledge base about the various attributes of data. This includes understanding the sources of data and data quality issues. This knowledge is a prerequisite for effective data analysis.

Upgrading data analysis skills can be handled in workshops or with ongoing one-on-one coaching. The article notes that the typical bias towards hiring workshop leaders or coaches strictly for their analytical skills may be short-sighted. Another attribute to look for is the ability to train employees in effective communication of the results of their analyses.

When organizations attempt to provide effective data analysis tools, a common error is to provide only a “one size fits all” mega-tool from a major vendor. Even though vendors claim their products can meet virtually all the needs in an organization, it is rarely true. A better approach is to provide additional tools that are tailored to the needs of specific business units. The challenge with this approach is, however, to ensure that that results of analyses from these different tools are presented according to the corporate standards for data analysis.

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