By Jorgen Heizenberg

A variety of talent is essential to implement data and analytics (D&A) strategies efficiently and successfully. However, the number of employees leaving their jobs is increasing, and while the demand for roles such as data scientists, data architects and data engineers is high, their skill sets remain in short supply.

The chance of finding the right resource can be dramatically reduced by adding skills and experience to D&A job profiles. For example, according to Gartner Talent Neuron data, if a job description requires a candidate for a data scientist role to have three years of experience and skills in SQL, Python, AWS and machine learning, that could eliminate approximately 98 per cent of the current pool of data scientists worldwide. 

In the face of talent shortages, some D&A leaders look to source talent from consulting providers. This can be a quick fix, but changing methods of attracting and retaining D&A talent is necessary for long-term results. Here are the steps that D&A leaders can use to build a talent-strategy to attract and retain qualified talent for new and emerging roles in their organization.

Increase presence & visibility

Recruitment agencies and employee referrals are a good starting point for attracting D&A talent. However, a more comprehensive approach is necessary to discover and entice top talent in a competitive market.

Attend industry events, summits and seminars for networking and recruiting purposes. Increase the organization’s presence and engagement on social media platforms, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, which can help reach new talent pools. Increase visibility in academia through sponsorships, guest lectures or internships, or consider organizing data hackathons to attract potential employees. Consider internal sources of talent as well, especially for citizen data scientist roles.

Seek talent diversity

You might entice new D&A talent from outside your organization by hiring atypical or neurodiverse talent, who are often highly logical and analytical, or boost strong pattern recognition and mathematics skills. By 2024, Gartner estimates that 80 per cent of large-enterprise CIOs will have a neurodiversity talent strategy, and that neurodiverse employees will comprise three per cent to five per cent of their IT workforces. 

Become human-centric

Creating an attractive corporate culture that prioritizes employees as humans first also offers the potential to reel in talent. You might, for example, enable employees to learn skills that are useful outside of the organization and show concern for their families and personal lives.

Remember that work-life balance has become more important as employees get more accustomed to hybrid and remote working options. Because they increasingly value remote-work flexibility, it is incumbent upon all leaders to explore remote or hybrid work as a long-term or permanent option, and make location flexibility explicit in job postings. 

Drive cultural change

With the emergence of ethical artificial intelligence (AI), which builds trust in AI solutions, explainability, accountability and ethics, there have been calls for data and analytics leaders, including the CDO, to foster more ethical cultures. You do that by supporting your and your employees’ personal values and morals, and devoting your time to improving the social purpose of data for good, a movement in which people and organizations transcend organizational boundaries to use data to better society.

Don’t forget about retention

Once you’ve found good talent, focus on retention by developing programs for data literacy that help improve D&A understanding among your team. Explore training programs that reskill and upskill employees not only for role-specific technical skills and certifications, but also for soft skills such as collaboration or storytelling. Actively track and score talent well-being against these efforts.

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Jorgen Heizenberg is a research vice president at Gartner, Inc. researching data & analytics (D&A) trends and best practices with a human centric focus. Gartner analysts will discuss the latest trends in data, analytics and artificial intelligence at the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit, taking place August 22-24 in Orlando, Florida.

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