In this two-part series exploring the growing need for advanced analytics in midsize companies, Part I focused on steps sales and marketing teams can take to capitalize on their data resources. Part II will touch upon analytics applications for operations and HR and examine how midsize companies can equip their teams to perform successful data analytics.
As noted in Part I, large enterprises have long used advanced analytics to drive operational efficiencies and optimize resource utilization. These industrial leaders leverage their data to derive critical business intelligence in areas such as:
For midsize companies, there is mounting pressure to harness analytical powers to achieve similar gains. Especially as companies transition in size from small to medium and accumulate more data, the need for more sophisticated tools and practices to measure and drive efficiency also grows. Therefore, leveraging data to reduce wasteful spending is foremost among analytics targets in the midsize market. According to A Harvard Business Review article examining the need for automating data analysis in midsize companies, the Channel Company found that 58 percent of midsize market IT leaders surveyed identified improving operational efficiency as their top priority, compared to 36 percent who identified increasing revenue.
Beyond streamlining operations, skillfully applied data analytics can help organizations optimize the precious resources they have in their workforce. Informing improved decision-making about the talent that drives thriving companies, analytics provides critical insights that shape successful talent acquisition, retention, and development initiatives.
For HR professionals in midsize companies, data analytics can drive important people-centered programs. For example, we spoke to an HR director of a midsize company who uses internal data to address some of the most pressing workforce priorities, such as DEIB initiatives. A primary concern in this organization is ensuring each employee is exposed to a range of professional possibilities and has access to development opportunities. By performing skills and DEIB analytics, this HR professional is able to assess skills gaps and representation gaps to promote diversity across the workforce, remove barriers to inclusion, and support their employees’ efforts to reach their full potential. These practices benefit her organization by uncovering valuable insights from diverse perspectives and boosting employee retention rates.
HR analytics has long helped larger organizations develop effective strategies for enhancing, maintaining, and optimizing their workforce. For example, data analytics helps HR managers track metrics that provide insights into workforce attributes, such as:
In addition to attracting and retaining diverse talent, HR professionals can empower midsize companies to embrace data analytics by implementing training programs that equip employees to use data effectively across business functions.
For growing companies, workforce data science training can seem daunting. Training presents another challenge that HR analytics can help midsize organizations meet.
Consistent with many employees who assume multiple roles in growing companies, HR professionals in the midsize market often don the L&D mantle. As previously noted, many HR leaders in midsized organizations already use analytics to track skills gaps and untapped internal potential. These professionals can apply such insights to their workforce upskilling and retention efforts as they seek training resources that address the unique needs of their workers and organizations.
Here are some steps HR managers can take to set themselves up for success in advanced analytics:
Conduct skills analytics. HR managers in midsized companies can use internal people data to gauge their teams’ skills and measure them against the skills required to meet current and future organizational needs. The HR director in the example above explains that she begins such analytics by creating a matrix of existing skills and specific skills supervisors need on their teams, generating ratings on a scale of one through five. In this way, she identifies and prioritizes skills gaps to target in training.
Seek a platform. HR professionals may initially feel rudderless when selecting a data science training program suitable for a growing mid-size organization's workforce and budget. However, HR networks, available through such platforms as LinkedIn, Slack, and SHRM, can provide helpful recommendations for training resources. Some of the specific features HR managers might look for include:
To meet these criteria, midsize companies can select a data science training platform that gives them access to a comprehensive course catalog and easily navigated learning pathways mapping the incremental steps individual learners should take to acquire their desired skills. In addition, an end-to-end platform that integrates communications capabilities to foster communities of practice and mentorships can provide midsize organizations with all the tools they need to implement effective workforce training.
Track outcomes. In the same way that HR managers can use analytics to identify employees’ upskilling needs and goals, they can perform analyses to measure training outcomes and impact. A platform that includes communications and metrics is ideal for facilitating these evaluations. In addition, measuring the newly acquired skills’ impact on productivity and performance is critical for determining the return on training investment. Ultimately, the HR director in the example above shares the goal is to avoid the worst possible outcome, which is to invest precious budgetary resources and employee time into training that fails to deliver, leading to employee disengagement and attrition.
For midsize companies, data analytics creates value in areas ranging from sales and marketing to HR and operations. However, to fully leverage data, these growing organizations must invest in training that empowers employees in all departments and functions to identify and pursue the analytical opportunities their data presents. With technological barriers eroding and training resources suitable for smaller workforces emerging, midsize companies can join the ranks of organizations meeting the future with data-driven insights.
Data Society provides customized, industry-tailored data science training solutions—partnering with organizations to educate, equip, and empower their workforce with the skills to achieve their goals and expand their impact.