Data Science Skills Leaders Should Know
Everyday Data Scientists use their skills of Data Analysis, Data Interpretation and Data Communication to readily translate some of the company's most important assets
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Data Science is increasingly becoming a key organizational capability and development teams are front and center in helping enterprises to become more agile, improve their competitive positions and create new business models.
Everyday Data Scientists use their skills of Data Analysis, Data Interpretation and Data Communication to readily translate some of the company's most important assets... "data"... into insights that can be utilized by an organization's key stakeholders in order to answer critical questions and inform critical decisions.
Data Science requires very different skill sets than traditional Data Management: Data scientists need to have excellent analytical skills, not just with the ability to analyze large datasets but also the ability to frame questions in such a way that analysis will yield actionable results.
C-Level leaders however need to take responsibility for understanding the key data problems in businesses and ultimately making the decisions that affect their organizations.
So what are the key skill sets the modern-day C-Level leader should possess in 2022?
1. Data Analysis
In Data Science Data Analysis is the process of inspecting, cleaning, transforming and modeling data with the goal of discovering useful information, suggesting conclusions and supporting decision making. Data analysis can be applied to a wide variety of problems – from business intelligence to scientific discovery – where large amounts of data are being analyzed to gain insight into a specific set of phenomena.
C-Suite Executives need to be able to understand the Data Analysis process and how Data Scientists work, ask Data Scientists the right questions about Data Analysis and be able to understand the Data Analysis results themselves.
2. Data Visualization
The communicative power of Data Visualization is increasingly important for Data Science as it enables non-experts – including C-Suite – to easily understand complex Data Science results and communicate these to others in an organization e.g. explaining a data analysis result that informs a decision will require good Data Visualization skills and ability to explain things that may not be intuitive or familiar (e.g: why do we see downward spikes in churn?).
C-Suite needs to be able to understand Data Visualization processes, demands and limitations; create simple but effective Data Visualization; and recognize Data Visualization that is not helpful.
3. Data Storytelling
Career Data Scientists will be increasingly relied upon to translate Data Science insights into Data Stories which are accessible, engaging, compelling and persuasive enough for the intended audience (e.g.: "what you need to know" or "why this matters") in order to influence their behavior ... by telling Data Stories C-Suite Executives can make Data-driven decisions with confidence rather than relying on hunches or making questionable decisions based on limited data analysis skills.
C-Suite Leaders need to understand Data Storytelling processes, demands and limitations; have Data Storytelling ability themselves as well as knowing how to work with Data Scientists that can create Data Stories; recognize Data Storytelling that is not helpful.
4. Data Interpretation
Data interpretation: the ability to understand and effectively communicate Data Science results and recommendations based on Data Analysis and Data Visualization. Data interpretations can be made by Data Scientists themselves but also non-experts – including C-Suite – with sufficient Data Interpretation skills, know-how and experience... However, interpreting complex data analysis results requires more than looking at charts (i.e. knowing what questions to ask Data Scientists).
C-Suite needs the ability to interpret Data Science results; There needs to be enough knowledge of key business areas involved in decision making to frame meaningful analysis; recognize situations where Data Scientists should be engaged for further interpretation or other input.
5. Data Literacy
Data literacy is the ability to understand Data Science processes, demands and limitations; Data scientists can create Data Stories that are persuasive but may not be accessible or understandable by non-experts. Data interpretation requires knowledge of specific business areas involved in decision-making as well as Data Science know-how.
Data Literacy can bridge this gap... For example, some C-suite executives will need Data Literacy skills regarding customer intelligence (focus on Data Storytelling), whereas others will need Data Literacy skills regarding data analytics (focus on Data Analysis).
C-Suite needs to achieve a broad understanding of key aspects of Data Science; where they cannot develop expertise gain enough Data Literacy; end up needing expertise, seek help from Data Scientists or Data Science consulting companies.
Data Literacy skills can be improved by Data Science education, Data Science certifications and Data Science workshops/courses.
6. Business Acumen
Business Acumen is the ability to understand how Data Science (and Data Analytics) affects business goals such as revenue growth, costs, risk management, etc...; make Data-driven decisions based on Data Analysis; follow Data Scientists' reasoning and recommendations; know what questions to ask Data Scientists; able to identify problems with Data Interpretation or Data Storytelling; and know where to go for further clarification (e.g.: experts within the organization).
C-Suite needs a broad understanding of key aspects of Data Science; where they cannot develop expertise gain enough Data Literacy; end up needing Data Scientists, Data Science consulting companies or Data Science educational resources.
7. Data Leadership
Data Leadership is the ability to lead Data Scientists and Data Analytics initiatives throughout an organization... Data Leadership goes beyond Data Literacy and Data Storytelling, requiring a deep understanding of data analytics processes, limitations and how 'best practices' have evolved over time – including Data Science maturity model methods.
C-Suite needs to gain Data Leadership skills by attending Data Science education courses or workshops/courses; gain expertise through consultancy with Data Scientists or Data Science consulting companies; understand where different types of problems can be solved through Data Analytics without needing Data Scientists themselves.
8. Big data management
Effective Big data management is important for companies that want to use Data Science for better decision making. Data Management and Data Governance help Data Scientists to get the data they need in a timely manner; make Data Scientists more productive; prevent Data Analytics projects from failing due to Data Quality issues...
C-Suite needs to develop Big Data management skills by working with Data Scientists or Data Science consulting companies, attending Data Science education courses/ workshops, gaining consultancy from Data Scientists.
9. Data Ethics
Ethics refers to how an organization is run and its interactions with customers, employees and other stakeholders... According to Ethical Technology , ethics should be part of everything we do in our lives but mostly when using technology... In the context of this article, C-suite needs to see themselves as Data Protectors. Data protection is about keeping Data safe and secure; ethically using Data to ensure Data Ownership; respecting Data Privacy; abiding by Data Policy...
C-Suite needs ethical skills to work with Data Scientists, gain consultancy from Data Scientists or Data Science consulting companies, attend Data Science education courses/ workshops.
The ability to communicate effectively with both technical and non-technical audiences is key in the C-Suite role... This ability helps leaders make better decisions when they understand not only what has been done but why it was done this way. Capturing the 'why' will help future decision-makers see how data analysis can improve their business processes...
C-Suite needs communication skills through working with Data Scientists, Data Science consulting companies or Data Science education courses/ workshops.
11. Problem Solving & Decision Making Skills
The C-Suite has ultimate authority over the company's decisions... CEOs often 'own' big decision-making processes... Data Science skills are useful in many different ways. Data Science will give Data-driven insights that can solve problems and make better decisions about the future of a business or product...
C-Suite needs problem-solving skills to work with Data Scientists, Data Science consulting companies, or Data Science education courses/ workshops.