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The power of data analytics is profoundly changing the global business landscape. Optimizing data-related opportunities to build productivity and boost revenue requires significant changes in organizational mindset.

In short, it takes more than just great data scientists. You need Big Data leaders who can apply business knowledge, provide authority when decision rights conflict and signal that your company is committed to a new, data-driven culture.

Managing Change and Complexity

Your Big Data leadership team must know how to effectively manage a team, work with data scientists and deal with constantly changing business requirements. Core management skills are essential. But your leaders also must fully grasp the culture of data scientists.

In other words, don’t push data scientists. Leave them alone to figure out their problems. Be the liaison between their work and the success of your business.

  • Driving successful change is a leader’s primary responsibility. Data scientists need leaders who work closely with them to integrate their problem-solving competence with the flexibility required to thrive.
  • Your Big Data team must model a culture of innovation. This can be difficult for data scientists. Although they love to solve problems, they like those problems to be well defined. Innovation doesn’t always work this way. Data scientists may be afraid to fail because they hate being wrong. The job of a Big Data leader is to manage expectations and reward behaviors instead of results. This keeps the entire team moving forward – including those periods when failure is a central component of the bigger innovation picture.
  • Your leaders must ensure that the team doesn’t stray from your strategic vision. It’s easy to get distracted when you work with data exploration. Leaders must weed out the bad distractions and keep the team focused in the right direction.
  • You need a cross-functional “GM” to manage complexity. Heading a Big Data team means leading a daunting network of communication channels, as well as integrated planning, resource allocation, quality and risk management, cost control and scheduling.

The Responsibilities of Big Data Leaders

Your Big Data leaders are responsible for:

  • Establishing new mindsets: They must understand and embrace the concept that data is core to your business success. Only then can durable change resonate throughout your company. Your senior Big Data leaders need the influence and authority to inspire this action.
  • Defining your data analytics strategy: Your data analytics function needs a clear strategy and well-articulated initiatives and benchmarks. Your senior analytics leaders must be explicitly charged with drafting a plan and aligning related business priorities to this end. This should be a blueprint for the planning efforts of all other business units.
  • Identifying needed resources: Your leadership must assemble the data and lead the construction of advanced analytics models and tools to continually improve business performance. You need talent that can effectively manage these resource demands, which can be considerable. For instance, there is a plethora of vendors available to provide core data – and top management experience is needed to work through relevant “build versus buy” decisions.
  • Securing top analytics expertise: The search for top data talent is occurring in what has become the world’s hottest market for advanced skills. Attracting and retaining these business-critical employees is a challenging task, one in which cutting-edge creative solutions are demanded.
  • Mobilizing resources across your organization: Your Big Data leaders need to create decision support tools and help your front-line managers to use and benefit from advanced analytics models. They must be adept at getting diverse groups to coalesce around change, encouraging alignment across all business functions.

Do you need help building your data analytics leadership team? By partnering with an executive search consultant from BrainWorks, you’ll have access to our specialized Big Data industry knowledge, expertise, candidate database and contacts. Contact us today to learn more.


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