As organizations strive to adopt data-driven decision-making and strategizing, data and analytics skills are in high demand. What that means varies from organization to organization—and also by the level and job role of the individual. Learning and development teams can and should take a leadership role in upskilling all levels of their organizations in these trending areas.

Tech-savvy organizations perform better

Organizations that upskill and reskill broadly to improve technical acumen and data and analytics skills outperform companies that do not, according to two McKinsey & Company data professionals who addressed the Learning Leaders Alliance Winter 2021 Online Forum. At high-performing companies, employees at all levels have a deeper understanding of data concepts, speakers Kiera Jones and Alexandre Martinez said.

“If you think about building technology skills broadly and the acumen of using technology and digital, then it’s also easier in the long term to adopt new technology,” as opposed to focusing training around teaching small groups of learner to use specific tools, according to Jones, who is the associate director of learning at McKinsey Digital. Targeted training produces “incremental changes over time, versus truly changing what the mindset and the skill level of your entire organization is,” Jones said.

Different data skills for different populations

But, Martinez, the director of learning for digital and analytics at McKinsey & Company, said not everyone understands and uses data in the same way, and learning leaders must understand their different constituent groups—and target learning opportunities to each. These groups include:

  • Technology experts who learn quickly, use data and analytics tools at a high level, and often learn through professional groups and conferences
  • Individuals at different levels in the organization who understand the intersection of technology with business needs and goals; these individuals need a broad understanding of relevant technologies but also a mindset that is open to and comfortable with a variety of strategic and problem-solving approaches and who can manage diverse, multi-disciplinary teams
  • Executives who have to manage the transition and changes that technology brings to every level of the organization; these leaders need an understanding of the business opportunities that technology presents; they might learn best from other executives who have already navigated a similar transition
  • Learners at all levels who both need the skills and tools to adjust to the changes in their job roles and the broader understanding of the impact of technology on their work, their families, and their lives; these learners need both tool-specific training and education toward a mindset that embraces data-driven decision-making, technological impacts on the employee and customer experience, and more

Creating training tools and resources for each of these groups is a critical way for learning leaders to impact digital readiness in the organization and lead the shift in mindset necessary to build strong data and analytics skills throughout the organization.

Opportunity for L&D to drive change

Taking ownership of a data and analytics initiative offers L&D leaders an opportunity to shine. Providing the right learning opportunities to each segment of the learner population will bring long-term benefits to the entire organization.

These opportunities might consist of resources and training created in-house or identifying conferences, professional certifications or organizations, and existing off-the-shelf training that suits learners’ unique needs. Changing the technology mindset and raising the skill level of an entire organization is a long-term goal, but Martinez and Jones offered suggestions to show impact in the short term as well. Dig in deeper by viewing the full recording of Martinez and Jones’s session, which is available on demand to all Learning Leaders Alliance members.

Alliance Members are also invited to the monthly LeaderCHAT. The event, on March 9, 2021, features TorranceLearning CEO Megan Torrance and focuses on exploring the ways data can be used to further learning and development goals and increase impact.

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