In today’s business environment, the one topic that executives and senior leaders are increasingly asking about is data analytics. And some might be asking, “what is data analytics and how can it help?” In thinking about this question, it’s important to understand the thousands of questions that are solved each day by companies, using analytics. A few examples answered with data analytics are:
Who of my customers are likely to leave us and why?
What is the cash reserve of my company?
On the production line, which part of the machine is scheduled for replacement ahead of breakdown so that the line keeps running?
What are the tax payments made in each of the 34 states my company does business?
And the list goes on. Organizations not only have a desire but a need to unlock the value in their data to make insight-driven decisions. These insights are being used within all departments – human resources, finance, operations, sales, research, supply chain, marketing operations, and more – across every industry, from healthcare, education, and technology to the public sector, media, and manufacturing. With this increased demand for data-driven insights, there is an urgent need for companies to hire employees with analytics skills and to reskill their current employees.
After earning my bachelor’s degree in business administration at Castleton University in 1984, I started my career in New York City with data analytics before moving on to become one of the founding partners of Alteryx in 1997, a leader in analytic process automation (APA™) with our global headquarters in Irvine, California. Throughout my career, I’ve come to realize that technology alone doesn’t solve our biggest business and societal problems; instead, technology complements our inherent human capabilities. When organizations bring together data, processes, and people, they are able to transform their workforce and business outcomes now. As more companies adopt the Alteryx Analytic Process Automation Platform™ and embrace a culture of analytics, thousands of hours and millions of dollars are saved, and workers spend less time on manual tasks and more time making meaningful changes.
A university degree alone isn’t enough for students to land that first job as they begin their career journey. Corporations and higher education institutes share a responsibility to prepare students to be part of today’s workforce by updating university curriculum with student access to technology solving for ‘real world’ business problems in the classroom. With help from their educators, students can develop analytics skills early on to “future proof” their careers. By stressing the importance of analytics for entering the job market, expanding data literacy and what it means to be a data worker, and evolving curriculum to meet the standards of today’s business requirements, educators can set their students up for success as they start their career and beyond. Working with data is real for all of us. Just like wifi, data is everywhere and now a part of everyone’s job.
At Alteryx, we see customers using our data analytics technology platform in their marketing, HR, finance, sales and other departments to streamline efficient processes and make data-driven decisions across their operations. According to PwC’s “Investing in America’s data science and analytics talent” report, 23 percent of educators say all graduates will have data science and analytics skills, while 69 percent of employers say they will prefer job candidates with these skills over ones without. The demand isn’t just for data scientists – it’s for business people with analytics skills. Bolstering student CVs with data analytics skills and certifications can give students a leg up as they begin their job searches.
Educators can play a role in closing the skills gap when it comes to data science and analytics. Today, I can look back on my curriculum at CU as a Business Administration major with classes that included market research practices, probability and statistics, psychology, and many others. Having access to technology like Alteryx would have helped connect what I was learning in the classroom with the “real world.” Data skills today can’t be taught with spreadsheets because the data is too big, and the worker can’t get to insights. Self-service analytics platforms like Alteryx enable every level of data worker, no matter the level of experience. In addition to understanding the value of hard skills in this area, the soft skills developed in the process of problem-solving are equally as valuable to employers once students enter the job market. The influence of educators – from early education through university and higher education – will be crucial in enabling more and more data workers.
To enable students to become data workers, universities can evolve their curriculum and equip their classrooms with the right tools and technology used in today’s modern workforce. By diversifying content in the classroom to make it relevant to a variety of career paths, students can better understand how their learnings will apply to their intended careers. Through the Alteryx for Good (AFG) program, students and educators can access an Alteryx Designer license, learning paths, and one-on-one help via the Alteryx community for free. Many educators across the globe have already integrated Alteryx into their courses and capstone projects. For example, a micromarketing professor who benefits from the AFG program demonstrates applications of Alteryx using real business cases in her class and encourages her students to pursue Alteryx certifications. She said that many of her MBA students get internships or even full-time jobs based on their knowledge of Alteryx. This type of classroom integration, in addition to the offering of more analytics degree options, is essential given our ever-evolving business world.
I encourage all university leaders and educators to look at their programs and curriculum to evaluate what needs to be done in order to arm more students with desirable skills in today’s job market. A college degree is earned, but when it comes to what one does with that degree, power lies in knowledge and skillsets. With the heightened demand for data analytics and increased accessibility to platforms like Alteryx, the time to skill up the workforce of the future is now. As a student, Castleton University’s Certificate in Analytics (master’s program) and Business Analytics Certificate (undergraduate program) are excellent programs to gain valuable, in-demand experience to bring into the business world. For more information on Alteryx for Good and how to get started with using Alteryx and data analytics in the classroom, visit alteryx.com/alteryx-for-good.