Unlike anything companies have experienced before, the current pandemic has highlighted the significance of resilience and agility to support business continuity during this time of unprecedented volatility and disruption.
For this reason, business leaders are developing a more in-depth understanding of both the importance and value-adding potential of data insights when digitising their organisations ahead of what is hoped to be a year of recovery in 2021.
Leveraging data to maximise business responsiveness
As businesses continue to navigate the road to recovery, better leveraging real-time data to become more responsive and able to make accurate and timely decisions is a top priority for many. Essentially, this means optimising proficiency in gathering and converting large amounts of raw data into useful business intelligence.
Having advanced business intelligence (BI) tools and processes could help companies model the impacts of future disruptions as well as better understand how to serve customers with the right products and services as specific consumer needs and the wider market environment both continue to evolve. Data around consumer sentiment and spending patterns as well as where, when, and how people consume products and services could all be sources of valuable insights for companies wanting to optimise their recovery strategies.
A recent survey by Robert Half1 shows that almost a quarter (24%) of general managers are prioritising big data management as part of their COVID-19 recovery strategies, while over one-third (34%) of CFOs intend to harness big data for their finance department.
Balancing technical data skills with cognitive skills
Aside from having the right technical expertise and recovery know-how, companies must also implement a data recruitment strategy that acknowledges the importance of cognitive skills to the new digital-first, data-driven business ecosystem. For example, fast and effective decision making during changeable times is most successful with the help of CIOs who can work alongside CEOs to shape the strategic agenda of an organisation – rather than taking a siloed view of a companies’ technology and wider operational infrastructures.
At the same time, tomorrow’s CEO will also need to lead with a ‘risk aware’ mindset. An awareness of new and evolving risks will help CEOs ensure their company has the capacity and resources to harness data for their business’ benefit without compromising cybersecurity or data compliance regulations.
The value of sustained data and analytics innovation
Despite the challenges, a report by McKinsey explains that continuing to pursue innovation initiatives could bring many advantages in an environment where the assumptions that once supported past growth have given way to emerging trends and opportunities. Organisations that maintained their focus on innovation throughout the 2008 global financial crisis were found to have emerged stronger, outperforming the market average by 30%.2
Across the board, data and analytics recruitment strategies must be designed to identify professionals who are also competent innovators. More than one third (37%) of CIOs, according to Robert Half’s survey, say they plan to innovate and invest in new technologies as fostering a culture of innovation, along with an agile “fail early, learn fast” approach to digitisation, will enable companies to continually improve the quality of insights and more readily convert them into actions which boost the bottom line. For example, this might include shifting to new products or finding alternative ways to work or deliver services ahead of the competition.
The impact of new technologies, data and analytics is also being felt across other departments. Demand for Financial Planning & Analysis roles (FP&A), as a further example, is growing steadily as finance personnel adopt more holistic, data-focused approaches in response to the current pandemic. ‘Blended' soft/technical skillset demand (inclusive of communications platforms and data/document exchange and collaboration), meanwhile, is likewise evident across office admin roles as these key functions help facilitate remote work and maintain productivity spanning multiple teams.
The role of data recruitment in a post-pandemic world
A report by McKinsey Digital suggests companies will need to onboard talented data professionals who can identify and leverage new data sources, lead initiatives that develop 360-degree views of the customer, retrain algorithms based on new realities and modernise their cloud infrastructures.3
To become a more sustainable business on the ‘road to recovery’ in 2021, leaders should regularly conduct skills audits across their workforces, with data recruitment front of mind. With a more in-depth understanding of their current capabilities, companies can seek to fill skill gaps that will help them succeed. Business Intelligence Analyst, Data Analyst, Data Engineer, and IT Systems Analyst are likely to be some of the most sought roles in data for the months ahead.
Being open to hiring talent on both a contract and permanent basis might also help fill business-critical skills gaps as the pandemic continues to rumble on–onboarding contractors for short-term projects like customer segmentation and sentiment analysis being a prime example. Quickly onboarding highly sought-after temporary and permanent staff could also be an integral part of a companies’ upskilling, training, and skills transfer programmes to tackle future challenges and overcome potential skills shortages.
Data and analytics recruitment is, therefore, emerging as the next key pillar of digitisation amongst companies that are setting their sights on the road out of the pandemic in 2021.
With access to a vast pool of data talent, Robert Half could help your business drive and resource for a robust data recruitment strategy. Our highly experienced and knowledgeable recruitment specialists are always ready to help leaders develop an in-depth contextual understanding of the role of data recruitment in a post-COVID-19 world, and how it could lead to a more resilient, agile, and relevant business operation.
1Robert Half commissioned research amongst 1,502 respondents using an online data collection methodology during July 2020.This was comprised of 300 interviews in Belgium, 300 in Brazil, 301 in France, 300 in Germany, and 301 in the United Kingdom. Respondents included General Managers, Chief Financial Officers and Chief Information Officers with hiring responsibilities across small (50-249 employees), medium (250-499) and large (500+ employees) from private, publicly listed, and public sector businesses across the five countries.
2McKinsey & Company, June 2020, Innovation In A Crisis: Why It Is More Critical Than Ever
3McKinsey Digital: The Digital-Led Recovery from COVID-19: Five Questions For CEOs