Once your business has started collecting and combining all kinds of data, the next elusive step is to extract value from it. Your data may hold tremendous amounts of potential value, but not an ounce of value can be created unless insights are uncovered and translated into actions or business outcomes. During a 2009 interview, Google’s Chief Economist Dr. Hal R.Varian stated, "The ability to take data—to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it—that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades." Fast forward to 2016 and many businesses would agree with Varian’s astute assessment.
Google's Chief Economist, Dr. Hal R. Varian predicted the growing importance of data skills back in 2009. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Variety)
As data becomes increasingly ubiquitous, companies are desperately searching for talent with these data skills. LinkedIn recently reported data analysis is one of the hottest skill categories over the past two years for recruiters, and it was the only category that consistently ranked in the top 4 across all of the countries they analyzed. Interestingly, much of the current hiring emphasis has centered on the data preparation and analysis skills—not the "last mile" skills that help convert insights into actions. Many of the heavily-recruited individuals with advanced degrees in economics, mathematics, or statistics struggle with communicating their insights to others effectively—essentially, telling the story of their numbers.