The Data Revolution is Here. Don’t Let Your Employees Get Left Behind

Charles Miglietti, CEO and Co-Founder of Toucan Toco

It’s no secret that we are going through turbulent times right now. From COVID-19 to climate change and from gender inequality to globalization, we face existential crises that require big, bold solutions. Technology companies are increasingly being asked to develop these solutions. Automation, big data and machine learning all have the power to reshape our economies and develop powerful new ways of working, interacting and collaborating to solve the problems our society is now facing.

Even so, we can’t just sit back and wait for AI innovations to deliver the Deus-Ex-Machina interventions we need. Instead, we must proactively ensure that we are using advanced data in the best and most intelligent way possible at all levels of our organizations. This is not just about using data altruistically to solve social problems. It’s also about making sure we can develop the skilled workforce we need to take advantage of new data-driven technologies. If we want to keep our jobs and ensure that our organizations remain competitive, we need to quickly adapt to new methods of data-driven decision-making.

A 19th century street lamp lighter could potentially have spent its entire career fiddling with ancient tools and technology before electric lamps finally took over gas. However, digital innovations move much faster. The breakthroughs we’re now seeing in data and AI will rapidly transform the way current professionals do their jobs. Employees who fail to adapt are left behind – and that’s bad for them and bad for their employers too.

No jobs are future-proof

We have all seen how technology has changed the way we work. Between 2000 and 2020, the skills required to succeed in the global job market changed significantly. From salespeople to auto designers, today’s employees need to be tech savvy and able to use the internet and connected digital devices to improve their skills and create value for their employers and customers.

The next 20 years will prove to be similarly transformative. Employees who do not currently use a lot of data in their working life are likely to be far more data conscious in the years to come. The reality is that in the digital age, no jobs are future-proof. The only way to protect yourself is to be adaptable and acquire the new skills necessary to succeed.

This is actually a good thing for today’s workers. As the pace of technology and data-driven transformation accelerates, our education system will not be able to keep up. Existing workers will not simply be replaced by better educated youth, as anything new graduates have learned in school will be out of date by the time they enter the labor market.

In other words, the workers who will be successful in the future will not be the ones who learned data-driven methods and techniques in school. Instead, they are the workers who are resilient, flexible, and adaptable enough to embrace new ways of working and view continuous growth and change as a cherished part of their regular working life.

Autonomy, no micromanagement

What does this mean for employers? It won’t be easy to find talented people. The IT skills gap is already a problem for 80% of executives in North America and 78% of executives worldwide, according to the Global Knowledge 2020 IT Skills and Salary Report. The number of IT decision makers reporting skill gaps has increased since 2015, directly affecting the ability of organizations to achieve goals and deliver results.

Just as employees need to learn flexibility, employers need to stop looking for specific skills and instead look for the ability to learn and grow. However, employers must also trust that workers are taking responsibility for their growth. As French economist Nicolas Bouzou says, “workers need autonomy, not timers”. By helping employees manage their own development, employers can ultimately close the skills gap and achieve lasting success.

That doesn’t mean you should just push people in depth and expect them to adapt to our new data-driven world without help. The key to building a skilled and self-updating workforce is giving your team the tools they need to integrate data into their existing workflows without having to earn a PhD in data science to do their job to do.

For example, imagine a salesperson who wants to learn to make smarter, more data-enabled decisions. The key to supporting their success is not to throw a pile of undifferentiated data on them and expect them to be able to make sense of it. Instead, the company should develop an embedded solution that integrates with the software tools that employees are already using, such as: For example, a dashboard that dynamically displays key performance indicators and metrics tailored to the specific role, product lines, or customers of the seller.

If you do this right, your employees will make smarter decisions and be more productive without ever having to enter numbers or understand the intricacies of behind-the-scenes data analysis. The result: Your databases are democratized so that employees can take responsibility for their own growth and can continue to develop fluently in order to maintain their employability even with radical changes in their roles and your company.

Data without calculation of numbers

By empowering employees to take advantage of data-driven analytics and improve the way they create, sell, market, and manage financial data, everyone in your company can actively participate in the digital and data revolutions. This is good for workers who can adapt instead of being left behind. But it’s also good for businesses because if you take these people into the data-driven era, you can benefit from all of the expertise and insights they’ve built along the way.

In order to solve the great challenges of our society, we need data-driven digital solutions. But we also need loads of creativity and experience that our organizations already have, and every ounce of human capital that we have acquired over the years. By streamlining the data experience and organically introducing it into our existing workflows, we can unlock the full potential of these extraordinary and transformative technologies.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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