Report Busts Data-Analyst Dearth and Other Data Myths

Deloitte Takes Balanced Look at the Hype

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Conventional wisdom has it that there's a dearth of data scientists. Deloitte delved into this and other perceptions surrounding the much-hyped practice of data crunching for business decision making and marketing. In its "Analytics Trends 2014" report, the firm's analysts weighed the merit of several purported data truths.

Is a Good Data Scientist Hard to Find?

Deloitte analysts acknowledged it's not easy to find the right people to take on newly created data-analysis roles. However, they suggest larger companies in traditional industries may have less need for data scientists than digital startups. And, now that there are more and more college courses dedicated to data related skills, "We could soon be drowning in individuals with data scientist titles, further blurring distinctions about the skills they bring to the party and how they integrate with the broader team."

The report also suggests the data scientist talent drought is a fallacy:

"Some of the current talent crunch is a function of hoarding, not real demand. In response to predictions about impending shortages of qualified analysts, companies scrambled to recruit talent beyond what they actually needed. This led to experienced people being asked to carry out activities like straightforward reporting that could have been done with lower-level talent."

Wanted: New Data Position

Do companies need to create a new senior-level data role? Deloitte analysts took different stances on this question:

"When e-commerce began to rise around the turn of this century, many organizations created senior e-commerce roles to advocate for and guide the new capabilities they were building. It's probably a safe bet that their positions sped up their companies' initiatives in this important domain, even if the roles were eventually absorbed back into IT or marketing. The same can be said of Chief Analytics and Big Data Officers today."

On the other hand:

"Adding a new C-level title almost indicates that the topic is faddish. Whatever happened, for example, to Chief Knowledge Officers? And why can't the Chief Strategy Officer spearhead analytics, given that strategy should be at the core of any analytics roadmap? The last thing analytics needs is the same fleeting popularity."

Should Companies Sell Their Data?

Nearly every company from every industry has a potential data stream it could package for a new revenue source. But is that a good idea? While Deloitte analysts acknowledge it is and will continue happening, some warned against it:

"There may be some opportunities for data products and services outside of the online industry, but it's not a significant growth opportunity…. Before undertaking development of data products, perhaps companies should do a better job of using analytics to market and sell their existing products to existing customers."

The full report can be found here.

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