Study also finds that companies with a data scientist role are twice as likely to have a strategy for prioritizing and measuring analytics projects

In new research released today by MIT Sloan Management Review and SAS, managers surveyed around the world report that attracting, rewarding and integrating analytics talent into the organization are crucial for analytics success. For example, companies defined as “Analytical Innovators” are three times as likely as lagging companies to successfully integrate analytics talent with traditional data workers.

The study also found that those companies that have a “data scientist” role in their organizations are more than twice as likely to clearly prioritize data projects, and two-and-a-half times as likely to have a formal data strategy.

This new study, “The Talent Dividend,” is based on a global survey of more than 2,500 business executives and personal interviews with 28 senior managers across many industries. Now in its fifth year, the study suggests that companies strongest in analytics are pursuing many paths simultaneously to build and maintain a strong corporate analytics skillset.

“Taken together, the human resource practices of analytically mature companies have all the hallmarks of a plan,” said David Kiron, executive editor for MIT Sloan Management Review. “Companies that are less successful with analytics tend not to have a plan; their approach to analytics talent is scattered and inconsistent.”

The research also indicates that companies with a strong and visible commitment to analytics find it easier to recruit and retain the best analytics talent. One executive interviewed noted that “talent can be drawn to companies where they can make a difference, but they don’t want to go someplace where they are likely to be frustrated in their efforts. Companies that traditionally have not given much weight to analytics may lack the intangibles that draw top analytics talent.”

“Talent is clearly a key driver in innovating and gaining a competitive advantage with analytics,” said Pamela Prentice, chief research officer for SAS. “Analytical innovators are four times more likely than the analytically challenged to believe they have the right talent in place.”

The study recommends that companies seeking to build their talent bench follow these four strategies:

  • Look inside to tap internal talent–one big plus of developing analytics skills among current employees is that they already know the business.
  • Focus on talent integration, not infusion—integrating new talent is a difficult but vital piece of the effort to gain value from analytics workers.
  • Set up a buddy system—there are few miracle workers with every last necessary skill. It’s important to build complementary teams.
  • Build a common core—make sure that you enhance the ability to consume analytical insights across the entire organization.

Please visit MIT Sloan Management Review to read the full report, or for more information on the MIT SMR/SAS joint Data & Analytics project.

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