Why do we see so much interest around Analytics or “big data” these days? I was reading an article in HBR about “Data Scientist “being the sexiest job of the 21st century. It had an interesting example of how Dr Jonathan Goldman- a PhD from Stanford – who is working for Linkedin from 2006, used data analytics to create an interesting feature “People you may know” in order help linked members to find connections as well as increase the new page views on the site. Thanks to this unique feature, Linkedin’s fortune changed forever. Similarly, many companies are realizing the impact analytics can create for their business and fostering analytics talent.
Great companies have figured out how to utilize the power of data without losing on their inherent business intuition. Analytics is pivotal to organizational success and cuts across many functions, operations, and processes within a company. But analysts are often scattered throughout the organization, many companies don’t even have a clear picture of who their analysts are, where they reside organizationally or exactly how many of them they have. Many companies are coming around to understand their data needs as well as needs to centralize this workforce segment that requires its own recruiting strategies, training and development plans and career paths.
Given the excitement around this new stream, it’s inevitable that demand for analytical talent will outstrip supply. In order to manage this imbalance, one can give certain analytical initiatives priority over others and train front-line staff to carry out basic analyses. Yet at some point, to boost the supply and increase the quality of your analysts, you’ll need new strategies for locating and attracting the necessary skills. Why not leave the trouble of hunting down and training such exotic talent to us? We have been at this for over 12 years now.
The war of analytical talent in India is fierce. There are large IT companies who are getting themselves familiar with Analytics and present in every major city in India, there are boutique firms selling start-up experience to geeks. Over the last 12 years, we have been recruiting analytical talent for our clients as well as running a solid learning and development agenda to build talent internally. While we continue to fight our battle to hire in this market, one of the key initiatives that we drove over the last few years is to reach out to the talent as they are getting groomed in educational institutions. We started to engage with variety of ideas which allow us to get talent before they hit the job market. India has a large pool of Universities that produce thousands of Engineers and graduate students everywhere. But most of them are not trained to do analytics-related jobs for large companies right away.
In 2009, we coined the idea of “Service Factory” within our business. We decided to look at entry level analysts that we constantly need for both replacement of talent as well as for growth of the business. We realized that hiring such a large number of people in this fierce market would lead to inflated compensation and loss of business due to delays. We, therefore partnered with training institutes to develop a foundational course on Analytics tools/techniques. The idea was to look for fresh graduates from local Universities and train them on Analytics. This sorted out the challenge of talent pipeline at the foundation level of our pyramid. We could pull them into a client team at will fully trained on Day 0. Client satisfaction on hiring delays and learning curve has increased tremendously over the last 2 years due to this new talent model. The entire talent supply chain moved from “Make to order” to “Make to stock”. In return, it also presented fresh talent with an extremely interesting and growing career option.
In order to fulfill our need to deepen and augment our talent pool, in 2012, we started to look at potential premier Business Schools in India to develop a full-time Graduate program in Business Analytics. We zeroed in on Institute of Management Studies, Ghaziabad – one of top 10 B-schools in India. We partnered with them in 2012 to develop the entire suite of Analytics courses which are relevant to Financial services Industry. We played a key role in course design as well as teaching so that we are directly in touch with the bright stars. We already have 50+ of them joining us so far. This is a game-changer in this industry in India. We continue to look to increase such partnerships to further getting closer to our talent pool. This is the talent that will work on many of our client business problems and add value to their businesses. These are the data scientists who will change how we think and run our business tomorrow.
Thomas Davenport wrote in one of his HBR articles – “Think of Big data as epic wave gathering now, starting to crest. If you want to catch it- you need people who can surf. We will need to create them not buy them for one another.