Four characteristics of a data and analytics leader

Becoming an analytics-driven organization is not just about technology. What are the leadership skills needed to drive effective change?

Executive writes on board

Overcoming the multiple challenges confronting businesses as they implement organizational changes to achieve data and analytics excellence requires leadership. To be effective, leaders need to wear many hats, and indeed must be renaissance professionals.

By studying the results of a June 2015 survey of 564 executives, EY and Forbes Insights have identified a segment of executives whose organizations are gaining competitive advantage as a result of their data and analytics initiatives. What they share in common can be summarized in four key characteristics, and these provide a road map for other organizations to consider on their own analytics journeys.


1) Know your business

Data and analytics leaders need to be business experts, which means knowing not just how their own business works, but how the business sector in which they operate works and where and how value is created.


2) Focus on value

They have to be innovators who can see where and how within their business the most opportunity lies for driving value through change and how this can improve services or create new ones that bring competitive advantage.


3) Speak the right language

Leaders also need to be solution architects in order to drive the changes they want. This means being able to work between the technical and business teams that design and implement analytics-based solutions. The leader doesn’t have to design or implement the solution itself, but he must be able to intercede between these teams to optimize its effectiveness.


4) Build relationships

An additional characteristic that is often overlooked within many organizations is the need for a network builder. This means having a large number of trusted relationships with senior stakeholders across the company and a reputation for being able to get things done.

Business people in discussion

The importance of people

Making the most of the opportunities and competitive advantage that the analysis of big data can bring requires not just technology but the right people.

This is not just about technical knowledge and having big, innovative ideas – it’s about being able to apply those skills in a way that brings value to your organization, and that brings your organization with you on your analytics journey.

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