1. Counting on Analytical Talent
By Jeanne G. Harris, Elizabeth Craig and Henry Egan
Executive Summary ............................................................................................................... 3
How to Create a Talent-Powered Analytical Organization .......................................... 7
How to Organize Your Analytical Talent .......................................................................... 17
How to Engage and Retain Your Analytical Talent ....................................................... 27
About the Research ............................................................................................................... 40
About the Authors ................................................................................................................. 46
Notes ......................................................................................................................................... 47
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3. Counting on Analytical Talent
Companies are increasingly turning to analytics to gain a
competitive edge. As they do, they must resolve unique demands
on their information technology, their structure, their processes,
and their culture. Most critical, however, is the challenge posed
by analytical talent, the people at all levels who help turn data
into better decisions and better business results.
In this report, we explain how companies are harnessing the
“talent power” of their analysts, organizing them most effectively,
and keeping them engaged for the long term. For companies
that want to succeed with analytics, it’s essential that they
recognize analytical talent as a distinct workforce, and manage
them in accordance with their growing importance.
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4. Counting on Analytical Talent
Are your analysts working on your hard at work on the follow-up, inconsistently applied. And analysts’
most important problems? Are they Analytics at Work, which reveals how daily work activities are not always
turning operational data into insights organizations can effectively deploy aligned with the strategic goals of
you can act on to outperform your analytics in their day-to-day operations— the organization. This is a recipe for
competitors? Can you count on them one business decision at a time.3 disaster when it comes to attracting,
to help you make better decisions? Elizabeth, meanwhile, had studied talent engaging and retaining analytical
for years, as a professor and then as talent and building an organization’s
The answers may lie in how well you an Institute researcher and co-author analytical capability.
are managing your “analytical talent.” of The Talent Powered Organization,
These are the people who use statistics, which explains how companies can How can companies overcome this
rigorous quantitative or qualitative transform talent management from a neglect of analytical talent and get the
analysis and information-modeling supporting function to an essential most out of this critical workforce?
techniques to shape and make business competitive capability.4 Henry, our As we discuss in part one of this report,
decisions—the “quant jocks,” “math third author, was in fact our own the key is to take an enterprise-wide
brainiacs,” “Excel ninjas” and other analytical talent, adept at making approach to managing analysts. We
analysts who bring you the data, the sense of large quantities of data and discovered that the most successful
quantitative analysis and the statistical deriving insights from the results. companies create a talent-powered
models you need to improve decisions analytical organization by building four
about everything from new product Having assembled this team, we started talent management capabilities:
offerings to marketing investments. with some basic questions about these defining analytical talent needs;
increasingly important employees: discovering new sources of analytical
And more and more, such people matter Who are they? What motivates them? talent; developing analytical talent;
to performance because analytics itself, What makes them effective? How and deploying analytical talent effec-
as a way of making smarter business well do companies manage them? We tively. In doing so, they not only address
decisions and getting better results, interviewed dozens of executives in the strategic and operational needs of
matters more and more. In a recent analytical organizations and surveyed the business but also unleash their
Accenture survey of executives at large more than 1,300 employees to investi- analysts’ talents to continually expand
companies in the US and UK, nearly gate these questions. the company’s analytical capabilities.
three-quarters of participants said
they are working to increase their What we found was surprising. Second, we learned that companies
company’s use of analytics.1 often struggle with how to organize
First, we learned that companies neglect analysts. Should they be centralized or
For these reasons, more than two years this group. They don’t see analytical decentralized? “Charged out” to the
ago, we began studying analytical talent talent as a distinct and valuable rest of the business as consultants
as a distinct group. One of us, Jeanne, workforce—and they certainly don’t or made available as a free resource?
was already a worldwide expert on manage it as such. Analysts are often Where and to whom they should
analytics, having just published a scattered throughout departments; report? Most companies use one of
groundbreaking book, Competing on many companies don’t have a clear five models to organize their analysts,
Analytics, on how organizations use data- picture of who their analysts are or often depending on the organization’s
driven insights to generate impressive where they reside organizationally.
business results.2 And she was already In fact, most companies have many
different job descriptions for similar
analyst roles—if they have them at all.
As a result, performance expectations
and measurements are vague or
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5. Counting on Analytical Talent
relative degree of analytical sophisti- cultural factors matter most. Analysts
cation. But their choices are often are most engaged when they under-
problematic. When companies don’t stand the business side of things as
get it right, their best analytical minds well as the analytics, when they know
are relegated to conducting simple what is expected of them, and when
analyses or working on low-value they can keep their technical skills and
projects rather than building robust expertise current. They are most likely
models to solve the most challenging to stay when they have a high degree
business problems. Worse still, that of management support. We examine
type of work is a sure recipe for analyst what engages analysts, and what makes
disengagement and defection. them likely to stay with an organization,
in part three of this report.
As we explain in part two of this report,
our research revealed that companies As companies continue to seek com-
that want to build a strong analytical petitive advantage and ways of
workforce are best served by greater differentiating themselves, they will
centralization and coordination of be counting on analytical talent more
their analytical talent. Doing so ensures than ever. Your company’s success
that analysts are working “close to the with analytics hinges on its ability to
business” on the most important initia- effectively manage analysts, so you
tives and also “close to one another” to need to understand what makes them
coordinate their efforts and to promote tick. This report won’t tell you every-
mutual learning and support. It also thing you need to know, but it will get
ensures that analysts have the kind of you started. Regardless of whether your
meaningful work and career opportunities company routinely uses analytics as a
that are critical to their engagement distinctive business capability or is just
and retention. beginning to develop analytical aspira-
tions, the care and feeding of analytical
The third surprising discovery of our talent is critical to your success.
research was that while analysts are
motivated by many of the same things
as other employees, some things are
uniquely important to analytical talent.
Three things are essential for engaging
and retaining all employees: Companies
need to provide meaningful work and
career opportunities, support people’s
efforts as well as their need for
recovery and renewal, and cultivate a
culture of trust and respect. But analysts
have a different view of what makes
opportunities meaningful, what kinds
of support are essential, and what
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6. Counting on Analytical Talent
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7. Counting on Analytical Talent
How to Create a Talent-Powered
Successful companies have learned how to harness the power
of this increasingly important kind of talent. To get started,
you have to recognize the “quant jocks,” “math brainiacs,”
“Excel ninjas” and others who regularly work with data as a
distinct workforce—one that is pivotal to an organization’s
success. Our research reveals that generating talent power
with this workforce comes from building four key talent
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8. Counting on Analytical Talent
Few companies manage analytical companies create a talent-powered their ability to unleash their analysts’
talent as a strategic resource. Because analytical organization by building four talents to maximize and continually
analysts are often scattered throughout key talent management capabilities: expand the company’s analytical capa-
the organization, many companies bilities. Here’s what you need to know
don’t even have a clear picture of who 1. Defining analytical talent needs: to create your own talent-powered
their analysts are, where they reside What types of analysts do you need? analytical organization.
organizationally or exactly how many
they have. They certainly don’t recognize 2. Discovering new sources of analytical
or manage them as a distinct and critical talent: Where do you find top analysts? Define your analytical
workforce segment that requires its talent needs
own recruiting strategies, training and 3. Developing analytical talent: What
development plans, career paths or skills do analysts need and how do This step requires a deeper under-
performance management processes. you build them? standing of the variety of analytical
In fact, more often than not, companies roles and the types of analytical talent.
have many different (or poorly written) 4. Deploying analytical talent: How In a large corporation, hundreds of
job descriptions for similar analyst do you create the best possible match employees have the word “analyst”
roles—if they have descriptions at all. between analysts’ skills and business in their functional titles.
Performance expectations and mea- demands?
surements are vague or inconsistently We define “analysts” as workers who
applied. And analysts’ daily work activities What distinguishes talent-powered use statistics, rigorous quantitative
are not always properly aligned with analytical organizations isn’t just the or qualitative analysis and information-
the strategic goals of the organization. quality of their analytical talent: it’s modeling techniques to shape and
This is not just poor HR practice; it’s
a recipe for disaster when it comes Types of analysts
to attracting, engaging and retaining
analytical talent and building an Percentages represent the proportions of different types of analytical talent
organizations’ analytical capability— in a typical organization.
a goal that many large companies
aspire to meet in the near future.5
Our research sheds light on how to 1% Analytical Champions
overcome this neglect of analytical Lead analytical initiatives
talent and to get the most out of this
increasingly critical workforce (See 5-10% Analytical Professionals
the Appendix, “About the Research”). Build analytical models and algorithms
Through dozens of interviews with
senior executives in successful compa-
nies and an extensive survey of analysts 15-20% Analytical Semi-Professionals
from a wide range of industries, we Apply analytical models to business problems
discovered that the most successful
70-80% Analytical Amateurs
Put the output of analytical models to work
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9. Counting on Analytical Talent
make business decisions—still a broad Professionals At the interface between analytics
range of activity. In our research and Professionals possess the deepest and the rest of the business, semi-pros
experience with dozens of analytically quantitative skills. They are the chief need to be able to translate the results
oriented companies in many industries, architects of analytical applications, of analyses and the benefits of analytics
we’ve determined that successful developing the statistical models into layperson’s language. Some semi-
analytical organizations need four and algorithms used by others in the pros are primarily business analysts,
types of analytical people: champions, organization. Professionals typically such as MBAs with quantitative orien-
professionals, semi-professionals employ complex techniques—such as tations. (See “Help Wanted: Analytical
and amateurs.6 trend analysis, classification algorithms, Semi-professional.”)
optimization and simulation—and have
Champions advanced technical skills, including Amateurs
Champions are senior executives coding C+++, SQL and SAS. Amateurs’ primary focus isn’t necessarily
who rely on rigorous data and analysis analytical. Nevertheless, they need to
to run their business units. They are These jobs require an advanced degree understand analytics to do their jobs.
responsible for aligning analytics with (often a Ph.D.) in a quantitative field, Amateurs might include a call-center
business strategy. In some organizations, such as statistics, mathematics, eco- employee who relies on a “next best
like insurance companies and risk nomics or operations research, or a offer” recommendation in order to serve
management firms, executive titles such specialty degree in a field such as a customer effectively, or a regional
as “senior vice president of customer biostatistics, informatics, genetics or manager for a hotel chain who moni-
insight and analytics” or even “chief applied physics. (See “Help Wanted: tors and occasionally overrides the
analytics officer” are not uncommon. Analytical Professional.”) company’s revenue management system.
Champions are the leading advocates
and advisers on how analytical tech- Semi-professionals They are typically businesspeople
niques and technologies—such as trend- Semi-pros are responsible for applying who can enter and manipulate data
mapping and forecasting, predictive the models and algorithms developed using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets
modeling and enterprise-resource by professionals. The majority of and other basic information manage-
planning systems—can be used to guide financial and marketing analysts are ment tools and then put the output
decision making. semi-pros. They may be sophisticated of analytical models to work. The title
analysts in their own right, and may “amateur” is not meant to suggest
An appreciation of analytics, rather develop applications on occasion, but that these are junior employees. In
than a wealth of technical know-how, their primary role is to apply analytics fact, they include many of the most
is the central requirement for this to business problems. They are experts influential employees and executives
role. As a result, while some champions in data collection, interpretation and in your business. (See “Help Wanted:
have deep technical knowledge and the use. Semi-pros are adept at working Analytical Amateur.”)
academic credentials to match, the with analytical applications, visual tools
majority come from a business back- for information analysis and “what-if”
ground. (See “Help Wanted: Analytical tools, including marketing workbenches
Champion.”) and models for financial planning,
pricing or forecasting sales. They are
the primary users of statistical software
packages, such as SAS or SPSS, or
enterprise systems like SAP.
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10. Counting on Analytical Talent
Help Wanted: Analytical Champion Help Wanted: Analytical Professional
Director or senior vice president of client analytics Lead artifical intelligence—data mining engineer
Job Description: Job Description:
• Lead the development of a robust analytical environment • Responsible for research, design, prototyping and support
• Manage all client analytics projects to ensure timely of intelligent information processing applications
delivery of deep client insight • Responsible for both application and research across
• Develop knowledge infrastructure to support client a broad range of AI technologies: data mining, natural
development language process, human centered design, learning and
• Provide analytical and statistical consulting as required intelligent systems, and information semantics
• Perform trend analysis to support decision rationale • Must be able to design, prototype and support intelligent
• Direct the design and implementation of Client information processing applications with primary focus on
Satisfaction Measurement programs data-mining components and integration and evaluation
of statistical analysis technologies
• Minimum of 10 years work experience, the majority of Requirements:
which should be in an analytical role within a large • PhD strongly preferred, with 5 years of work experience
financial services organization; experience in managing • Strong skills in data mining and the intersection with
an analytical team is preferred other technologies such as signal and image processing—
• Proven experience in independently developing robust statistical classification models, clustering, time series data,
statistical models handling huge data sets, etc
• Superior hands-on knowledge of data-mining and business • Ability and desire to lead technical project teams
intelligence tools, particularly SAS and SQL • Ability and desire to meet with customers, understand
their needs, and generate appropriate, innovative
• Programming ability is desirable: C, Matlab, Java, Perl,
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11. Counting on Analytical Talent
Help Wanted: Analytical Semi-professional Help Wanted: Analytical Amateur
Manager, market research Supervisor, distribution plant
Job Description: Job Description:
• Manage all marketing tests and analysis including • Monitors throughput, volume fluctuations and labor
market-based analysis, field, direct mail and utilization to ensure smooth distribution operations.
e-commerce tests. Ensures appropriate staffing to meet new business
• Define test objectives, key metrics, and test parameters; requirements and volume fluctuations.
assure that tests are planned and executed effectively • Operates within established budgets, forecasts,
to maximize confidence in results. cost objectives and service levels to control expenses.
• Interpret results and recommend strategies, segmenta- Supports implementation of cost, quality and service
tions and programs to enhance customer insights and improvement initiatives.
identify untapped market demands. • Supports all established plant and distribution goals
and objectives. Apprises manager of team progress
Requirements: and any obstacles.
• Bachelors Degree, preferably in a quantitative field. • Ensures effective and timely communication of company,
• 5+ years experience in a testing and measurement plant and department information to managers, peers
or data analysis role within an in-house consultative and work team.
research organization or agency.
• Proficiency in SAS or SPSS Requirements:
• Masters degree strongly preferred. • Strong leadership, team-building, and problem-solving skills
• Ability to coach and mentor employees
• Ability to provide technical leadership
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12. Counting on Analytical Talent
How many analysts of each type you As you start to think through how to Discover new sources of
need will depend on your industry, manage analytical talent more strate- analytical talent
business strategy and the analytical gically, you should focus your efforts
orientation of your company. The on your ranks of pros and semi-pros. As you start to ramp up your analytical
challenge is to manage the types in a These scarce and highly-specialized capabilities, it’s inevitable that demand
way that reflects the unique contribu- workers are critical to maintain your for analytical pros will outstrip supply.
tions they make to the organization’s organization’s analytical capabilities, In order to manage this imbalance, you
performance. (See Figure 1). and they are also among the most can give certain analytical initiatives
challenging to attract, develop, engage priority over others and train front-line
When managing an analytical workforce, and retain. Because of their value to staff to carry out basic analyses. Yet
remember that the pros and semi-pros the firm, you can’t simply manage at some point, to boost the supply and
are the ones who create the most them the same way you manage the increase the quality of your analysts,
strategic value for your company. rest of your employees. You need a you’ll need new strategies for locating
Champions are important: They provide differentiated, strategic, enterprise-wide and attracting the necessary skills.
the leadership, direction and impetus approach to these specialists.
required to execute analytical strategies. Look inside your organization
But they are few and far between. Let’s take a closer look at how com- If your company has just started using
And while amateurs may use data and panies can manage these groups most analytics to create business value, you
analytics to perform their everyday jobs, effectively. should first look inside your organiza-
they do not possess the rare and valuable tion to identify the analysts you’ve
specialized skills that are the lifeblood already got. Scan the functions and
of the analytical organization. business units where you’d expect to
find quantitative talent—those that
traditionally use analytics most, such
Figure 1: Typical skill proficiency levels by type of analyst
as finance, IT, sales and customer
Few analysts possess the full range of skills needed to plan and execute major service. However, don’t stop searching
analytical initiatives. Therefore, companies need the right mix of analytical talent. there. While the majority of analytical
pros and semi-pros will be found
here, analysts are likely to be widely
Quantitative Business Relationship Coaching
knowledge and consulting and staff dispersed across the business.
and design development
Champion Consider Bank of America, which began
its efforts to better manage analytical
talent by characterizing a subset of
its job descriptions as “analytical.” The
bank ultimately identified more than
2,000 analytical professionals, semi-pros
and amateurs. The outcome of such an
Semi-professional assessment can help an organization
reorganize its analysts or focus on
recruiting and training to fill analytical
Amateur skill gaps.
Basic Foundational Intermediate Advanced Expert
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13. Counting on Analytical Talent
Look beyond your organization In the past, companies usually out- Develop your analytical
You can readily find analytical pros sourced analytical work to specialist talent potential
and semi-pros where they naturally firms in North America or Western
gather: at analytics conferences like Europe. But given the talent shortage Analytical work requires specialized
INFORMS (the operations research in these markets, businesses are skills, and the skill requirements
society), vendor-sponsored meetings increasingly looking for help in emerging change rapidly as new analytical tools
and alumni organizations. Many markets, such as China and India. and techniques emerge. You must
analysts tend to live near universities Often dismissed as vast pools of cheap keep your analysts’ technical skills up
with strong quantitative programs or number-crunchers, these markets are to date. But the ability to tune a
in major financial centers, where their becoming excellent sources of talent as regression equation or manipulate a
skills are in high demand. Advanced they gain the capabilities and experience spreadsheet is only the beginning.
skills can also be found on social to carry out some of the most complex Effective analysts are proficient not
networking sites like LinkedIn, specialty analytical tasks. Wachovia Bank enlisted only with data but also with people.
search firms and websites such as Genpact, India's largest business process Therefore you must invest in developing
quantfinancejobs.com or quantster.com. outsourcing firm, to provide investment the softer skills analysts need to
Poaching top analysts from high- banking analysis and other analytics succeed, as well.
performing competitors has also for the bank. By 2011, we estimate that
become commonplace. the majority of the offshore market for Quantitative and technical skills
analytics delivery will be based in India. These are the foundation. Naturally,
To secure an ongoing supply of pros analytical professionals have more
and semi-pros, you might forge links Some of your most talented analytical quantitative expertise than semi-pros,
with top graduate schools. Sponsorships professionals don’t even have to be champions, and amateurs, but all
and internships can help build close on your payroll. Companies like P&G, analytical people must be proficient
relationships with academic institutions. Amazon, Eli Lilly and Solvay are in the numerical disciplines specific
Dow Chemical, for example, enjoys a finding creative ways to harness ana- to their industry or business function:
long-standing partnership with Central lytical expertise through virtual collab- stochastic volatility analysis in finance,
Michigan University and hires many of oration and crowd-sourcing techniques. biometrics in pharmaceuticals and
its graduates. Similarly, SAS endowed For example, they are using Web- informatics in healthcare firms, for
a “Masters in Advanced Analytics” based “idea marketplaces,” such as example. Analysts must also know how
program at North Carolina State. www.Innocentive.com and to use the software tools associated with
www.NineSigma.com to post requests their type of analytical work, whether
If you can’t recruit the analytic talent (and rewards) for solutions to their it be to build models, define decision-
you need directly, consider outsourcing trickiest analytical problems. And Netflix making rules, conduct “what if” analyses
some of your analytic work. An opera- held a competition that offered a top or interpret a business dashboard.
tions executive from a U.S. retailer prize of US$1 million to anyone that
explains why that approach suits his could improve—by at least 10 per- One obvious approach to developing
company: “The forecasting group cent—the accuracy of Cinematch, its quantitative and technical skills is to
involves very technical kinds of skills movie recommendation algorithm.8 provide specialized training. At Procter
and experience, and so I prefer having & Gamble, for example, the central
a resource that can provide me with Product Supply Analytics group offers
the very best people on an ongoing a course, “Analytics with Spreadsheets.”
basis and has a bigger pool of talent The trucking firm Schneider National’s
to draw from."7 central analytics group offers courses
such as “Introduction to Data Analysis”
and “Statistical Process Control
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14. Counting on Analytical Talent
Business insight that they’re using. However, just as many Developing your analysts has many
Analytics doesn’t happen in a vacuum. are the direct result of an analyst’s benefits. Analysts build their skills and
In order for people to know where failure to appreciate the business side remain professionally relevant, and
and how best to apply their analytical of the analyses; for example, using your company enhances its analytical
skills, they need to understand the the right definition of “customer” in capabilities. Further, our research shows
strategy for their business, function their model. that developing analysts actually makes
and even department. They also need them much more likely to stay with
to understand the organization’s core Relationship and consulting skills your company, despite their increased
capabilities and how analytics can Analytical people are often stereotyped attractiveness to other employers.
create value for the business. as nerds who have no relationship skills
and probably don’t know—or care—
One way to increase your analysts’ much about the actual business. Not Deploy your analytical talent
business acumen is through develop- only are such assertions unfair, they
mental assignments. Be sure to expose are highly counterproductive. For To meet analytical objectives, you need
your analysts to the various business companies that really want to become the right people with the right skills in
units and functional areas across more analytical, their pros and semi- the right places at the right times.
the company so they learn about the pros simply must be able to talk in When analytical skills are well matched
company’s main business challenges layperson’s terms with clients, with to the work, the business is more pro-
and work processes. E&J Gallo Winery customers and with executives across ductive and analysts are more engaged.
rotates its analytical pros between the organization. There are three important components
different business units and functional to deploying analytical talent effectively.
departments during 18- to 24-month For this reason, consulting and rela-
tours of duty. As they analyze grape tionship skills are important. Analysts Organizing analytical talent
supply, develop new customer seg- must be able to conceive, specify, The way your analysts are organized
mentation models or perform supplier pilot and implement analytical appli- affects their ability to perform their
analyses, these quant jocks become cations; they must know how to advise, jobs, develop their skills and work with
savvy at identifying opportunities for negotiate and manage expectations. other parts of the business. It can also
analytics to help the business. Analysts also need to be able to influence their level of engagement,
communicate the results of analytical their degree of investment in your
Semi-pros (and even amateurs) need work, either within the business to company’s success and their likelihood
to continually hone their business share best practices and to emphasize of remaining loyal.
knowledge and skills to avoid the the value of analytical projects, or
sometimes costly errors that are sur- outside the business, to shape working Most companies with a successful
prisingly common. (Experts estimate relationships with customers, suppliers analytical approach have centralized
that between 20 percent and 40 percent and regulators. their top pros and semi-pros to some
of all spreadsheets have errors—some degree. Procter & Gamble, for exam-
catastrophic.9 ) Many analytical errors Coaching and staff development skills ple, took analytical groups that had
are the result of employees not under- The ability to nurture and develop been dispersed and combined them to
standing the data or the technology analysts is vitally important. If your form a new Global Analytics group as
analysts aren’t centralized, coaching can part of an IT organization. Pooling
ensure that best practices are shared analytical talent—or at least networking
across the company. Good coaching it more cohesively—can stretch these
not only builds all the essential skills scarce resources by making it easier to
described here, but it also helps people supply skills, advice and solutions to
understand how data-driven insights common problems.
can create business value.
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15. Counting on Analytical Talent
There’s no single organizational model Creating unique career paths can also Managing analytical talent
that’s best for every company. The increase your ability to attract and strategically
right model will depend on the matu- retain top analysts. Jim Heffernan, CFO
rity of your company’s analytics func- of the Massachusetts General Physicians Analytical talent is vital to the success
tion and whether you need analysts Organization, says that it’s a big chal- of nearly every organization. Whether
to be closer to one another or closer to lenge to avoid setting analysts up for your company aspires to compete on
the business. Nevertheless, our research failure by promoting them according analytics or simply to become more
reveals that firms with a strong com- to the organization’s standard career analytical, you need to manage your
mitment to building an analytical models. Many of the most technically analytical talent as a strategic workforce.
workforce are best served by greater adept analysts don’t want to manage
centralization and coordination others. To ensure that it can retain This cannot be accomplished with
of analysts. these valuable analysts, the organiza- piecemeal, ad hoc approaches that touch
tion is creating a compensation and only on parts of the overall talent
If you’re new to analytics, a first step promotion system that will allow great management equation. It requires an
might be to create a community of analysts to be individual contributors approach that looks across the entire
interest to provide support and share without direct reports and still be eli- enterprise. By building and aligning
examples of best practices. Once gible for pay increases and promotions. the four key talent management capa-
you’ve built a critical mass of experts bilities, companies can maximize the
and demand for analytics grows, you Staffing analytical talent strategic impact of their analytical
can look at other organizational mod- Matching the right pros and semi-pros talent and continually expand the
els, such as a centralized analytics to the right project is critical. Be pre- organization’s collective analytical
function or a center of excellence. pared to move people around in order capabilities. Or, in simpler terms, they
(We discuss this topic in more detail to help them focus on the company’s can build their own talent-powered
in the next section, “How to Organize biggest problems. analytical organization.
Your Analytical Talent.”)
The prerequisite to appropriate rede-
Clarifying analysts’ career paths ployment: An enterprise-level perspec-
In most organizations, pros and semi- tive on analytical roles and a detailed
pros are measured and developed not inventory of the organization’s analyt-
according to their analytical skills but ical skills. When Best Buy found itself
according to the standards of the with many open analytical positions,
business units or functions in which leaders evaluated the skills available
they are housed. As a result, rewards, across the business. A review of skills
performance management, objectives and open positions found many ana-
and role descriptions often vary wildly lysts who were either under- or over-
for analytical talent in the same qualified for their work, so the compa-
enterprise. Creating distinct roles can ny redeployed people to new positions,
boost performance and engagement putting hundreds of employees’ skills
by ensuring that analysts have clearly to better use while greatly improving
defined objectives, reward structures employee job satisfaction and
and growth opportunities. engagement.
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16. Counting on Analytical Talent
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17. Counting on Analytical Talent
How to Organize Your
To get the most value from your analytical talent while
also keeping them engaged and on board, you have to
organize them with the right approach. We discovered that
companies typically employ one of five models to organize
their analytical talent. Our research shows which models are
more effective both for the business and for the individuals.
The key? Keep your analysts both “close to the business”
and “close to each other.”
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18. Counting on Analytical Talent
Business leaders know they rely on But companies seeking to maximize centralization and coordination of
analytical talent to maintain their analytics’ impact on the business while analysts. The right organization model
company’s competitive edge. But they building a highly engaged analytical is also critical to engaging and retain-
often struggle with one crucial question: workforce face a dilemma. They need ing this ever more important segment
What’s the best way to organize our to organize analysts in a way that has of the workforce.
analysts? Executives have to decide them working “close to the business”
whether they should be centralized or on the most important analytical To decide which model is right for
decentralized; “charged out” to the rest initiatives while keeping them working your situation, you need to start by
of the business as consultants or made “close to one another” to coordinate asking questions about your level of
available as a free resource; and where their efforts and for purposes of mutual analytical maturity and the speed and
and to whom they should report. learning and support. Making both level of change your organization is
happen at once is the challenge. prepared to undertake.
The stakes of using the right model are
high. When companies fall short, their Are companies up to the task? To find
best analytical minds are relegated to out, we interviewed dozens of executives How companies organize
conducting simple analyses or working and surveyed more than 700 analysts. analytical talent
on low-value projects rather than build- We discovered that companies use one
ing robust models to solve the most of five models to organize their analysts. Based on our research and work with
challenging business problems. Worse While the right choice can vary, we analytical organizations, we identified
still, that type of work is a sure recipe found that companies with a strong five basic options for organizing
for analyst disengagement and defection. commitment to building an analytical analysts in large, multi-divisional
workforce are best served by greater corporations. (See Figure 2.)
Figure 2: Options for organizing analytical talent
Large, multi-divisional corporations use one of five models to organize analytical talent.
Centralized Center of excellence Consulting Functional Decentralized
Corporate Corporate Corporate Corporate Corporate
Business Business Business
Function COE Function Function Business unit Function Business unit Function
unit unit unit
Solid line indicates a direct line of authority
Dotted line indicates a partial line of authority or funding
18 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
19. Counting on Analytical Talent
Centralized. Analysts reside in one Consulting. Analysts work together Our survey data reflect the variety of
central group where they serve a in a central group but act as internal organizational models across industries.
variety of functions and business units consultants who charge “clients” The decentralized model is most
and work on diverse projects. (business units) for their services. prevalent (reported by 42 percent
of analysts surveyed), indicating the
Besides providing analytical expertise The consolidation of analysts enables immaturity of most corporations’ ana-
and support, this unit sets the analyti- enterprise-wide coordination of lytical capabilities today. Consumer-
cal direction of the entire organization. analytical activities. However, a lack oriented industries that we’d expect to
This structure makes it easier to deploy of direction from senior leadership can have advanced analytical capabilities—
analysts to projects with strategic cause problems because top analysts including retail, consumer goods and
priority. Candy giant Mars uses this can end up working on small, peripheral services, financial services and health
approach; its Catalyst group has long- problems rather than key strategic and life sciences—tend to use more
term funding and works on strategic challenges. United Airlines, eBay, and centralized models. Company size wasn’t
initiatives across the business. One trucking firm Schneider National all a key factor in choice of model, except
caveat: This model can create distance employ the consulting approach. in the most extreme cases: Companies
between analysts and the business, with fewer than 1,000 employees are
particularly if all analysts are housed Functional. Analysts are located in more likely to organize their analysts
in one location. the functions where the most analytical into one functional area, whereas
activity takes place, such as marketing companies with more than 25,000
Center of excellence. Analysts are and the supply chain. employees are more likely to use a
allocated to units throughout the center of excellence model.
organization, but their activities are In some cases, all analysts are housed
coordinated by a central entity. within the function with the strongest Analysts who work together in
analytical orientation, even though centralized groups or are connected
The center serves to build a community some may do work for other parts of through a center of excellence reported
of analysts, primarily to share knowl- the business. Fidelity uses this approach: the highest levels of engagement and
edge and best practices with one The great majority of analysts work are the most likely to stay with their
another. It can also double as a project in the Customer Knowledge group, companies. In fact, analysts in central-
management office, looking across which reports to marketing. Analysts ized groups were nearly twice as likely
analytical initiatives and determining are found in large numbers in to be highly engaged as analysts who
project priorities and staffing. Capital marketing at Carnival Cruise Lines and were decentralized. (See Figure 3.)
One and Wal-Mart both employ at GE Money (although they also work Analysts in centers of excellence
versions of this model. At Capital One, for the risk management function reported the strongest intentions to
Ph.D.-trained statisticians reside in a and other groups). stay with their employer, whereas
center of excellence. At Wal-Mart, those in the functional, consulting and
the Information Systems Division has Decentralized. Analysts are scattered decentralized models reported signifi-
organized an analytics center of across the organization in different cantly lower levels of engagement and
excellence, even though other divi- functions and business units with little weaker intentions to stay. (See Figure 4.)
sions employ most of the analysts. to no coordination.
This model makes it difficult to set
enterprise-wide analytical priorities
and to develop and deploy staff
effectively. Companies with few
analysts and little management support
are most likely to be decentralized.
19 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
20. Counting on Analytical Talent
Figure 3: Analyst engagement in the five organization models Figure 4: Analyst intentions to stay in the five organization models
Analysts in centralized units and centers of excellence are most Analysts in centers of excellence are most likely to intend to
likely to be highly engaged and least likely to be disengaged. stay with their company and least likely to intend to leave.
Center of excellence Center of excellence
Internal consultants Internal consultants
Concentrated in one functional area Concentrated in one functional area
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45
Highly engaged (top quartile) Disengaged (bottom quartile) Strong intentions to stay Weak intentions to stay
(top quartile) (bottom quartile)
Figure 5: Key features and priorities of the main approaches to organizing analytical talent
Centralized units and centers of excellence outperform other organization models on coordinating analytics initiatives,
sharing and developing analysts’ knowledge, and deploying analysts strategically.
Coordinate Deploy analysts Build Share best
Type Features enterprise-wide strategically relationships practice & Company examples
analytics initiatives with the business training
Centralized • Organized in a single, • Expedia
centralized unit • Mars “Catalyst”
• Sets analytical direction Group
of entire organization
Center of • Analysts decentralized, • Capital One
excellence residing in business units • Wal-Mart
• All analysts members of
corporate center of excellence
Consulting • All analysts are part of one • eBay
organization • Schneider National
• Business units “hire” analysts • United Airlines
Concentrated • Analysts organized in a • Fidelity
in one single business unit or • Carnival Cruise Lines
functional area functional area—usually
finance or marketing
Decentralized • Analysts sit in business • Majority of
units or functions non-analytical
• There is no corporate companies
20 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
21. Counting on Analytical Talent
If engaging analysts were the sole Three key factors influence the quality refining analytical models. We know
goal, our recommendation would be of analysts’ work and career opportu- of several organizations that have lost
simple: Centralize them. But in practice nities (and, in turn, drive engagement analysts who felt they were treated
we’ve found that the ideal model and retention): that their work is largely as “spreadsheet developers.”
depends on a company’s priorities, the aligned with the organization’s strategy It’s essential to give your best analysts
maturity of its analytical capabilities and goals and affects its success (sig- opportunities to apply their expertise
and the need to balance analyst nificant work), that they understand to the company’s biggest problems.
supply and demand. (See Figure 5.) the business (business insight) and
When just starting to use analytics, that their skills and aspirations are a One analyst, Sharon Frazee, gave us
most companies don’t need to use good match with the company culture an example of how significant work
them in every area of operations. Nor and goals (organizational fit). was connected to engagement. At one
do they have enough analysts to justify point in her career, she led a successful
centralizing resources—making a func- Significant work and highly engaging initiative to stan-
tional model a natural fit. As demand Without the chance to make a real dardize information and to streamline
grows, companies tend to hire more impact on the organization’s success, its distribution—changes that gave line
analysts. Once an organization gets analysts won’t find enough meaning managers more time to analyze potential
a critical mass of experts and demand in their work, and so they will be growth opportunities. Frazee, now
reaches the point that allocation of less engaged and less likely to stay. vice president of corporate healthcare
these scarce resources becomes a Perhaps the biggest de-motivator for analysis and research at Walgreen’s,
priority, one of the more centralized analytical pros is spending too much
models is appropriate. time on simple analyses and report
generation instead of building and
How organization affects
Figure 6: Meaningful work and career opportunities in the five organization models
Analysts in centralized units are most likely to report that they have meaningful
work and career opportunities. They use their highly specialized skills and gain
Meaningful work and career opportu-
valuable experience while contributing to the company’s goals.
nities are critical for engaging and
retaining all types of employees, and
analysts are no exception. How com- 39%
panies organize analytical talent 18%
affects whether they have access to Center of excellence
the most meaningful opportunities— 29%
work that allows them to use their 18%
highly specialized skills, gain valuable Internal consultants
experience and contribute to the 26%
organization’s goals. Analysts in cen- 22%
tralized units and centers of excellence Concentrated in one functional area
are most engaged and most likely 25%
to stay because they enjoy the most 17%
meaningful career opportunities. Decentralized
(See Figure 6.) 22%
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45
High meaningful opportunities (top quartile) Low meaningful opportunities (bottom quartile)
21 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
22. Counting on Analytical Talent
described her passion to contribute: Figure 7: Significance of the work in the five organization models
“I want to make a difference. Being able Analysts in centralized units and centers of excellence were most likely to say that
to do the kind of informatics work that they do important work that has a significant impact on their company’s success.
actually gets applied, and to see
things changed because of it, is Centralized
important to me.” 40%
How analysts are organized greatly Center of excellence
affects their opportunities to make 38%
meaningful contributions. Companies 19%
create centralized units and centers Internal consultants
of excellence to ensure that analysts 32%
are working on the models and appli- 34%
cations that matter most to the business. Concentrated in one functional area
Indeed, we found that analysts in 28%
centers of excellence and centralized 30%
units were most likely to report that Decentralized
the work they do is important. (See 32%
Figure 7.) Analysts who are organized 27%
as internal consultants, housed in
functional units or dispersed throughout 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45
the business were more likely to be High significance (top quartile) Low significance (bottom quartile)
stuck working on peripheral projects.
Business insight Figure 8: Analysts’ business insight in the five organization models
Organizations don’t just want “quant Analysts in centralized units reported the greatest understanding of their
geeks.” They need highly quantitative company’s strategy and capabilities, lines of business and competitive environment.
people who understand the business Because of their close ties to the business, analysts in functional groups also
and can develop strong relationships possess considerable business insight.
with business leaders. How analysts
are organized can have a major impact Centralized
on this dimension.
According to our survey, analysts in Center of excellence
centralized units, functional groups
and centers of excellence had more
insight into their company’s business Internal consultants
than analysts in internal consulting
groups or analysts who were decen-
tralized. (See Figure 8.) These more Concentrated in one functional area
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45
High business insight (top quartile) Low business insight (bottom quartile)
22 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
23. Counting on Analytical Talent
centralized groups offer analysts an Figure 9: Line of sight to the business in the five organization models
enterprise perspective: One in three Analysts in centralized units were most likely to understand how their group
analysts in centralized units under- contributes to their company’s success.
stands how his or her group con-
tributes to the organization’s success,
whereas just one in five analysts in 33%
the other models has this degree of 17%
insight. (See Figure 9.)
Center of excellence
GE is famous for its ability to build 28%
business acumen far and wide through- Internal consultants
out the organization. It’s no different 20%
with the company’s analytical talent. 36%
For example, its financial services unit, Decentralized
GE Money, operates analytical centers 19%
in Shanghai and Bangalore. Staff mem- 33%
bers from the centers routinely rotate Concentrated in one functional area
through other parts of the business. These 19%
assignments help analysts learn about 26%
the local operation and better prepare
them to meet its needs through the 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45
center in the future. Equally important, High line of sight (top quartile) Low line of sight (bottom quartile)
the assignments are a valuable reten-
tion tool because they offer analysts a
sense that they are making meaningful Figure 10: Organizational fit in the five organization models
contributions to the business. Analysts in centralized units were most likely to report a high degree of fit with
In many companies, analysts are viewed
differently from the rest of the work-
force; one executive we interviewed
Center of excellence
called them a “weird species.” Analysts 30%
themselves take pride in their uniqueness. 17%
Still, they want to work for companies
that value analytics and with colleagues 26%
that appreciate and respect their 19%
talents. They are most engaged when
they believe their rare and valuable skills 43%
are a good match with the company’s 14%
culture and goals.
Concentrated in one functional area
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
High organizational fit (top third) Low organizational fit (bottom third)
23 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
24. Counting on Analytical Talent
We found that organizations with Getting organized What if you can’t easily change your
a centralized analytics function are organization’s model? Leave analysts
better at communicating the value How do you determine which model is wherever they have enough sponsorship
they place on analytics and at making best for you? That answer depends to protect them and advocate for
analysts feel at home. Nearly half of upon the maturity of your company’s adopting a more enterprise-wide
all analysts working in centralized analytical capabilities as well as the perspective (which would require,
groups report a high degree of fit with level of demand for analytical skills. for example, consistency in skills, job
their organization; only one in 10 feels If your organization has little demand descriptions, training, salary and
their company is not a great fit for for analytics, has only a handful of career development opportunities).
them. (See Figure 10.) The fact that analysts and no executive sponsorship, If you use the consulting model, find
they’ve chosen to bring together the then it’s best to house analysts wherever ways to demonstrate to analysts how
company’s best analytical minds is they have a willing sponsor. In more their work contributes to organizational
likely a testament to the importance analytically sophisticated companies, goals. It’s also important to build a
they place on analytics. By contrast, demand for analytics quickly outstrips sense of community in order to share
analytical talent deployed as consul- the supply. In this case a hybrid best practices and improve analysts’
tants or concentrated in one functional approach, with a centralized team of sense of fit with the organization. If
area often feel like misfits, isolated the most advanced analysts comple- your analysts are concentrated in one
from the business as well as from mented by a center of excellence for functional area or are decentralized,
other analysts. analysts deployed to functions or busi- you’ll need to find ways to provide
ness units, may be the best solution. them with an enterprise perspective
Grouping analysts together, whether An enterprise-level organizational model and to build links between them and
in centralized units or centers of makes it much easier to deploy analysts with other parts of the business. Building
excellence, helps to maximize the fit on strategic business priorities. an informal community of interest
between analysts and the organization may be the best place to start.
and thus keep analysts engaged. For The next challenges: How fast can
example, Dr. Steven Udvarhelyi, senior you get there, and what’s the ideal And if your analysts are already
vice president and chief medical officer pace of change? Organizational change centrally organized or in a center of
at Independence Blue Cross, reports should be segmented into stages and excellence, that doesn’t mean all your
that the company’s internal “informat- spread over multiple time horizons— problems have been solved. While
ics organization” is critical for devel- quick wins versus longer-term goals. centralized organizational structures
oping analytical talent: “It’s a defined For example, linking decentralized are superior, they’re not perfect. Explore
center of excellence. It creates a fer- analysts through a community of ways to link centralized analysts more
tile ground for people to work with interest is relatively easy to do. Setting closely to people in the business so
other people. It creates a critical mass up a formal center of excellence, with that they better understand their needs
where you get career opportunities, specialized training and development and can more effectively translate the
growth opportunities and good for its members, takes longer. The findings of their analyses. If you have
professional interaction.” potential for change will be determined a center of excellence, it’s important
by the maturity of your organization’s to reinforce the links between analysts
analytics function as well as the strength and to make sure that senior management
of leadership and the level of senior fully supports the analytics function.
executive commitment to analytics.
24 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
25. Counting on Analytical Talent
Beyond organization The significance of analysts’ work, their
insight into the business and their fit
Companies and managers need to with the organization will all be higher
recognize analytical talent as a special in “analytics friendly” organizations.
segment of high-value employees, Managers that value fact-based analysis
whose preferences and motivations create precisely the kind of challeng-
vary significantly from those of other ing and important analytical assignments
employees. Organizing analytical talent that make analysts thrive. When man-
in a way that not only addresses the agers don’t value analysts’ work, then
strategic and operational needs of the no matter how they are organized, they
business but also provides analysts will be underused and unappreciated—
with meaningful work and career two guaranteed ways to sap the
opportunities is essential. (See Figure 11.) motivation of the best analysts and
Regardless of which model a company to send them to your competitors.
adopts, it should develop a community
of analysts and take an enterprise
approach to organizing them. That’s the
best way to ensure analysts feel that
they fit with the organization, under-
stand the business and have opportuni-
ties to make meaningful contributions
to its success.
Figure 11: Key performance indicators for the five organization models
The centralized and center of excellence models outperformed the others across a range of dimensions.
Influences Conditions Outcomes
Significant work Business insight Organizational fit Meaningful work & Engagement Intentions to stay
25 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
26. Counting on Analytical Talent
26 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
27. Counting on Analytical Talent
How to Engage and
Retain Your Analytical Talent
What makes analysts tick? Knowing the answer is
critical if you want your analytical talent to fully invest
themselves in their work and the company’s success.
Our research reveals four things companies must
do well in order to engage and retain this scarce and
27 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
28. Counting on Analytical Talent
Although the business literature is To discover the most important factors recovery and renewal and cultivate a
rife with studies of how to engage for engaging and retaining analysts, culture of trust and respect.11 But our
and retain employees, analytical we interviewed dozens of executives research revealed something important:
talent is unique. The analysts, “math and surveyed 1,367 U.S.-based Analysts have a different view on
brainiacs” and “Excel ninjas” have employees, including 799 analysts. what makes opportunities meaningful,
distinct backgrounds, skills, attitudes (For additional details, see the appendix, what kinds of support are essential
and motivations. To complicate matters “About the Research.”) We examined and what cultural factors matter most.
further, they themselves are a diverse more than 30 factors known to predict
bunch–from the executive champions employees’ levels of engagement and
who lead major analytical initiatives to intentions to stay with their employer,
the professionals who build and apply such as company culture, organiza-
statistical models and algorithms to tional systems, management practices,
the many employees who regularly job and career opportunities, leader-
use data and analytics in their work. ship and management and co-worker
Managers must understand what relationships.10
motivates these workers in order to
successfully engage and retain them. We determined that the essentials
of engaging and retaining employees
hold true: Companies need to
provide meaningful work and career
opportunities, support people’s efforts
to engage as well as their need for
What Is Engagement?
Engaged employees invest their physical, mental and emotional energies into their organization and its success. We gauged
respondents’ engagement levels by measuring the reported frequency with which they displayed behavioral, intellectual or
emotional investment in their work. Possible responses ranged from “Never” (1) to “Always, every day” (7). The data reveal
that, on average, analytical talent is more likely to be engaged than other employees.
Engagement survey item talent talent
I am enthusiastic about providing a high-quality product or service. 52% 39%
I am determined to be complete and thorough in all my job duties. 50% 41%
I am always willing to "go the extra mile" in order to do my job well. 43% 33%
I am prepared to fully devote myself to performing my job duties. 35% 27%
My job is a source of personal pride. 33% 24%
I am willing to really push myself to reach challenging work goals. 32% 26%
Trying to constantly improve my job performance is very important to me. 29% 23%
I am ready to put my heart and soul into my work. 28% 24%
I get excited thinking about new ways to do my job more effectively. 20% 13%
Percentage responding “Always, every day”
28 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
29. Counting on Analytical Talent
The importance of engaging The good news is that, according to receive instant feedback on their
and retaining analytical talent our research, analysts as a group were performance (either a model works or
significantly more engaged at work it doesn’t). Indeed, the analysts we
When employees are engaged, they than other types of employees. (See surveyed registered significantly higher
invest their full physical, mental and the sidebar, “What Is Engagement?”) levels on these factors than other
emotional energies in their work. Overall, 57 percent of analysts reported employees did.
Engaged employees go beyond what being moderately or highly engaged,
is expected or required—they show compared with 45 percent of other The bad news, however, is that a
initiative, innovate and continually employees. (See Figure 12.) Analytical sizeable minority of analysts is much
find new ways to contribute to their work may seem deadly dull to the less engaged. One in four was simply
organization’s success. Employee non-quants among us, but it possesses going through the motions—these
engagement is one of the keys to high many of the characteristics of moti- people show up for work each day, but
performance. Various studies have vating and engaging work.13 When they don’t give their all. And a full 20
shown that highly engaged workforces analytical work is well-organized and percent of analysts were completely
produce better business results, as aligned with business needs, analysts disengaged—rarely, if ever, investing
measured in terms such as higher have the opportunity to use a diverse focus or passion in their work or in
profitability, productivity and customer mix of skills (quantitative, technical their company’s success.
satisfaction.12 and interpersonal), see a project through
from start to finish and make a signif-
icant impact on business outcomes.
They also enjoy a degree of autonomy
in performing the work, and they
Figure 12: Level of engagement by type of employee
On average, analysts are more engaged than non-analysts. Analytical champions and pros are much more likely to be highly
engaged than other employees. Among analysts, semi-pros and amateurs are most likely to be disengaged.
34.2 34.9 32.7 33.7
22.7 23 23.3
21.4 20.9 20.9 21.4
Disengaged Somewhat engaged Moderately engaged Highly engaged
Champion Professional Semi-professional Amateur Non-analytical talent
29 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
30. Counting on Analytical Talent
Figure 13: Likelihood that respondents will actively look for a new job in the next year
On average, analysts were less likely to intend to stay with their current employer than non-analysts. The more specialized
and valuable their skills, the more likely analysts are to consider other options—champions, pros and semi-pros were most
likely to say they will soon look for a new job.
26 25.5 25.6
22.5 23.3 21.9 20.9
20.9 20.5 20.9 20.5
11.6 12.7 12.2
Not at all likely Unlikely Unsure Likely Very likely
Champion Professional Semi-professional Amateur Non-analytical talent
More troubling are our findings on search for a new job in the next year A high attrition rate among analysts
retention. Even highly engaged analysts is unsettling enough. But another 19 is a major problem that companies
won’t necessarily stay at their current percent said that they are “unsure” can’t afford to ignore. When analysts
organizations. Too many executives if they will stay with their employer jump ship, they take vast amounts of
mistakenly equate employee engage- in the coming year. That means half knowledge and expertise with them.
ment with retention, but employers’ of the analysts we surveyed are either If highly specialized analytical profes-
best efforts to engage analysts may unlikely to stay or ambivalent about sionals leave, there is often no one
not keep them from walking out the staying with their companies very long. with the same depth of technical skill
door.14 Our research reveals that to replace them. What’s more, finding
engagement level accounts for less The data for analytical professionals analytical skills in the market is becom-
than 10 percent of a person’s inten- is most troubling. (See Figure 13.) A ing more challenging as the supply
tion to stay. Therefore, as well as company’s Ph.D. statisticians, mathe- of new graduates shrinks and demand
engaging analytical talent, managers maticians and other quantitative for quantitative skills increases.16
need to figure out how to retain them. specialists may appear to be immersed Therefore, companies need a clear
in their statistical models, but many understanding of what engages ana-
The best analytical talent has no are also updating their resumes and lysts and what motivates them to stay
shortage of opportunities: Companies taking calls from headhunters. Nearly or leave.
fighting to retain analysts face an half (47 percent) of the analytical
uphill battle. The fact that 31 percent professionals we surveyed said they In our research, we compared the
of analysts responded that it is “likely” are likely to actively look for a new job factors that influence engagement and
or “very likely” that they will actively in the next year. Many semi-profes- intentions to stay among analysts with
sionals don’t plan on sticking around, those that matter to non-analytical
either: 33 percent expect to start a talent. We discovered that several
30 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
31. Counting on Analytical Talent
Figure 14: What matters most for engaging and retaining analytical talent
There are three essential conditions Influences Conditions Outcomes
for engaging and retaining analysts Business insight
and non-analysts alike: Companies Meaningful work &
need to provide meaningful work and Role clarity
career opportunities, support people’s Engagement
efforts to engage as well as their Resources to support
need for recovery and renewal and Technical skills
engagement & renewal
cultivate a culture of trust and
respect. But some things are uniquely
important to analysts. Companies
must do four things well to engage
and retain analytical talent: develop Supportive Culture of trust Intentions to stay
their business insight, provide management & respect
role clarity, help them expand their
technical skills, and ensure manage-
factors that have very little effect These are especially crucial for engag- In addition, employees are most engaged
on other employees’ engagement ing and retaining your most quantita- when they have the resources they need
or intentions to stay are crucial for tively savvy analytical talent—the to be effective—the skills, information,
engaging and retaining analytical professionals who create and use the people, technology and tools that
talent. Companies must do four complex models and algorithms that make it possible to do their jobs well.
things well to engage and retain companies rely on to inform business The opportunity to continually update
analytical talent: decisions. technical skills is uniquely important
to analytical talent. (See Figure 14.)
1. Arm your analysts with critical
information about the business. How to engage analytical talent Arm your analysts with critical
information about the business
2. Set roles and expectations: Meaningful work and career opportu- As analytics becomes more integral
for analysts, clarity is critical. nities are critical for engaging all to a company’s strategy, analysts need
types of employees, and analysts to develop stronger business insight.
3. Feed your analysts’ love of new are no exception. Analysts are most They can’t spend their days with their
techniques, tools and technologies. engaged by work that allows them to heads buried in models and spread-
use their highly specialized skills, gain sheets. They need the business
4. Give analysts the management valuable experience and contribute knowledge and skills to allow them to
support they need. to the organization’s goals. Two key understand the strategic issues facing
factors influence the quality of analysts’ the company and how analytics can
work and career opportunities (and, be used to drive business value.
in turn, drive engagement): Business Insight into the business not only
insight, or how well they understand makes analysts more effective—it also
the business, and role clarity, or how boosts their engagement.
fully they understand their role.
31 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
32. Counting on Analytical Talent
Figure 15: Percentage of respondents that are highly engaged, given high delineate problems and devise solu-
and low levels of business insight tions. Analysts there can effectively
communicate and negotiate with
Insight into the business matters more for engaging analysts than non-analysts. business leaders because they can
Analysts who possess business insight are nearly three times more likely to be explain how their work creates value
highly engaged than those who don’t. for the firm.
Opportunities to interact with key
stakeholders within and outside the
Analytical talent company help analysts learn how the
51% business uses analytics and how to
18% communicate the results of their
analyses in non-technical language.
Analysts who have the knowledge
and skills necessary to communicate
effectively with suppliers, customers
18% and other stakeholders are six times
more likely to be highly engaged,
0 20 40 60 80 100 we found.
Colin Sheppard, Virgin Media’s
High business insight Low business insight Director of Knowledge and Insight,
says Virgin trains its analysts to think
like clients. It encourages them to
Our research revealed that business analyses can be used to good effect.
focus on the business’s most pressing
insight is one of the strongest predictors In our survey, analytical professionals
problems, not simply to have fun with
of analyst engagement. More than with considerable appreciation for the
the data. He finds that’s what makes
half of the analysts who understand business were twice as likely to be
the difference between good and
their company’s strategy, goals, capa- highly engaged.
great analysts—the best are not only
bilities and operations were highly
technically outstanding, they also
engaged, compared with just 18 percent
To develop analysts’ business insight, understand the key motivations of the
who don’t have a firm grasp of the
companies should expose them to a consumer and are focused on com-
business.17 (See Figure 15.) Moreover,
range of business units and functions mercial objectives. Analysts who can
analysts who understand how their
so they learn about the company’s confidently communicate their findings
work relates to their organization's
main business challenges and work in terms that are important to senior
goals and contributes to its success
processes. Leaders at a global financial executives are not only more engaged
were nearly six times more likely to be
services company stress the need for but also more likely to convince
highly engaged than those who don’t.
analysts to understand the business management to act upon their recom-
side of things and to engage with mendations.
Business insight is particularly impor-
executives on their terms: “Let them
tant when it comes to engaging
be executives. Discuss business issues
analytical professionals. Despite their
and the potential for analytics to
technical background, these pros are
have an impact on the organization’s
most engaged when they thoroughly
results,” says the head of one of the
understand how their models and
company’s analytics groups. The firm
gives analysts the tools and templates
they need to capture business strategy,
32 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
33. Counting on Analytical Talent
At Duke Energy, analysts must be in front of top management and It’s awfully frustrating when you don’t
prepared to represent the business and group leaders for mock trials, where know what you’re supposed to do.
explain its analytics to a wide range of the analysts get practice testifying Engagement suffers in the absence
stakeholders—from internal customers and being cross-examined. Analysts of clear goals and expectations—and
to regulators and the public. A proposal who understand the external business this is especially true for analytical
to build a new power plant, for example, landscape and can speak the language talent. In fact, analysts who said they
entails extensive analysis of an enor- of business are both effective and understand their roles were six times
mous amount of data. Analysts are engaged. more likely to be highly engaged. The
called upon to publicly explain and flip side? Analysts with ambiguous
defend the company’s models. According Set roles and expectations: for roles were nine times more likely to
to Dick Stevie, Managing Director of analysts, clarity is critical be disengaged. A compelling argument
Customer Marketing Analytics, this Analysts like structure. As a group, for attention to this point if ever
requires “precision, completeness and people with a strong quantitative there was one.
clarity—no jargon and no metaphor. orientation tend to be less tolerant
You’ve got to convince a panel that of uncertainty and think in a linear At Google, employees know precisely
what you’ve done is logical and rea- fashion.18 That’s why they are so good what is expected of them. Roles are
sonable.” To prepare for these situa- at what they do—they turn raw data highly structured according to a
tions, Stevie routinely puts analysts into clear insights by creating models 70/20/10 model in which employees
and applications that make sense of it. spend 70 percent of their time fulfill-
That tendency toward order leads ana- ing basic job requirements, 20 percent
lysts to prefer structured and pre- on projects that help them develop
dictable work environments. technical skills and benefit the company,
and 10 percent on product and business
innovations. Although aspects of the
Figure 16: Percentage of respondents that are highly engaged, given high role are open-ended, overall expecta-
and low levels of role clarity tions and job requirements are clearly
defined. The company makes sure job
Role clarity is essential for engaging analytical talent—especially analytical profes-
descriptions are clear because, accord-
sionals. Pros who have clear goals, objectives and expectations for their jobs are
ing to Liane Hornsey, an HR director
more than eight times more likely to be highly engaged than those who don’t.
there: “Good people only fail if they
Amateurs do not know their role.”19 In addition,
59% a set of 25 performance metrics
keep “Googlers” on track to achieve
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
High role clarity (top quartile) Low role clarity (bottom quartile)
33 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
34. Counting on Analytical Talent
Figure 17: Engagement levels of analytical professionals, given time and In addition, the chance to work with
resources to keep up with field the latest analytic models, tools and
technologies is crucial.
Nearly four out of five highly engaged pros report that they are able to stay
abreast of evolving tools and technologies. Feed your analysts’ love of new
techniques, tools and technologies
Highly engaged Analytical work requires specialized
skills, and the skill requirements
change rapidly as new analytical tools
and techniques emerge. To sustain
3% and expand your organization’s ana-
Moderately engaged lytical capability, you must keep your
analysts’ technical skills up to date.
Investing time and resources in main-
17% taining your analysts’ technical skills
17% will also yield engagement benefits.
In our research, we found that analysts
who have opportunities to keep up
with advances and developments
28% in their field were three times more
22% likely to be highly engaged than those
Professionals, in particular, are much
44% more likely to be engaged when they
22% can maintain their technical skills:
Those who said they were able to
0 20 40 60 80 100 keep up with the latest tools and
technologies in their field were four
Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree times more likely to be engaged and
26 times more likely to be highly
engaged. (See Figure 17.)
We found that role clarity is particu- Clear does not mean rote, however.
larly important for engaging the Companies must be mindful that Consider the statisticians at AT&T Labs.
most quantitative-minded analysts. analysts place a premium on interest- The mandate of this analytical talent
Analytical professionals are much ing and challenging work. In particular, “is to develop new methodologies to
more likely to be engaged when pros and semi-pros want to work with deal with large-scale data problems—
they have a clear understanding of a variety of datasets and types of the type of problems generated by the
their responsibilities, objectives and analyses. One grocery retailer discov- massive stores of data AT&T collects to
authority: Three out of four analytical ered this the hard way. The company run its business,” says Chris Volinsky,
professionals who know what is expected could attract highly skilled MBAs director of the Statistics Research
of them were highly engaged, while to a job that entailed an essential but Department. To do this, it’s essential
just one in ten pros who lack such repetitive analytical task, but it could that they keep up with latest advances
clarity was. (See Figure 16.) not keep them for long. The analysts in statistical theory and methodology.
quickly became restless and sought
new challenges. Variety in their work
and a sense of personal progress keep
analysts challenged and engaged.
34 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
35. Counting on Analytical Talent
The Beleaguered Semi-Pro making meaningful contributions
to their organization’s success, they
All types of analytical talent demand are likely to disengage.
special efforts to engage and retain,
but companies should pay particular Many semi-pros struggle to divide
attention to the analytical semi-profes- their time or to understand what their
sionals that apply analytics to business job responsibilities include and what is
problems. Semi-pros lead difficult lives. expected of them. Clear requirements
They provide the interface between and objectives sometimes don’t exist
analytics and the rest of the business. for their jobs. Semi-pros had signifi-
They sift through piles of data and cantly less clarity about their roles than
provide business solutions to demanding champions, professionals or amateurs
executives. They are central to the did. They work at the intersection of
execution of your company’s analytics analytics and the business, often not
strategy. Because they have a foot in knowing which way to turn first. No
both worlds, their needs sometimes slip wonder they are so stressed out.
between the cracks. Out of all the types
of analytical talent, semi-pros are the To make matters worse, compared with
least engaged. the other types of analytical talent,
semi-pros receive the least amount of
Even though their main job is to apply support from their managers: Semi-
analytics to business problems, semi-pros pros need their managers to under-
often lack adequate insight into the stand their problems and help them
business, according to our research. find solutions. They also want their
In order to apply analytics effectively, supervisors to recognize their potential
semi-pros must understand their orga- and encourage them to advance their
nization’s goals, objectives and core careers. But too many semi-pros told
capabilities. They need to be aware of us they don’t receive the support from
the external business landscape. They their managers that they crave. This is
must recognize the key concerns of a surefire way to lose them.
various business departments. Despite
working more closely to the business, When you walk the floors of your
many semi-pros reported that they don’t organization, give your semi-pros some
have a deep enough understanding of extra attention. Their roles are fuzzy;
it. Without that insight, and therefore they often lack adequate insight into
without the sense that they are the business; and they don’t get
enough support from their supervisors.
But these beleaguered analysts are
essential to your company’s success.
35 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
36. Counting on Analytical Talent
The company expects them to be active spending serious time on it, it became How to retain analytical talent
in their disciplinary fields by publishing more imperative to justify why we were
papers, going to conferences, organiz- working on this to our management, To keep hold of your best analysts,
ing workshops and collaborating with make a case for it and clear the path you need to do more than make sure
colleagues in other organizations. to continue working on it. I was able they are engaged. Although it’s certainly
to justify working on it.” easier to retain engaged employees
These analytical professionals also (highly engaged analysts are twice
expand their technical skills by pursu- “The algorithms that we developed for as likely to intend to stay), as we’ve
ing problems across the business and the Netflix prize have benefited our stated, engagement itself is not enough.
beyond: “We have a lot of freedom research here, and there’s definitely Fully 45 percent of the highly engaged
to work on things that we find are been a lot of interest in applying the professionals we surveyed are at risk
interesting to us,” says Volinsky. His technology internally to many different of leaving within a year. The statistics
group has done work in the areas of projects,” says Volinsky. “But that for semi-professionals aren’t much
targeted marketing, fraud detection freedom to start working on it in the better. Four out of 10 highly engaged
and manufacturing, for example. first place was a function of the cul- semi-professionals are thinking about
ture that we have here.” That culture jumping ship.
A few years ago, the group took on a allows AT&T to make sure its top
challenge posed by Netflix, the online quant talent is constantly expanding To counter this threat, companies
DVD-rental company—and won. In their technical skills—and to engage need to create a culture of trust and
2006, Netflix launched a competition and retain world-class analytical talent. respect—one in which people are
that offered a top prize of US$1 million trustworthy, behave predictably, and
to anyone that could improve—by at Google also builds development support one another. In our survey,
least 10 percent—the accuracy of opportunities right into the work role. employees of every stripe were four
Cinematch, its movie recommendation Employees spend one day a week on times more likely to intend to stay
algorithm. “When they announced the projects that will develop their technical when they reported high levels of trust
competition, I thought that it was a skills and benefit the company. This and respect at their company. The
great match for the research that we arrangement is very important for numbers are even higher for analytical
do at AT&T,” says Volinsky. The starting engaging and retaining employees. talent. Analysts who reported working
point was the enormous Netflix dataset Says HR Director Stacy Sullivan, "It in a strong culture of trust and respect
of real customers’ movie ratings. makes people feel the company values were seven times more likely to
the employees." The numbers bear this intend to stay.
Volinsky and an AT&T Labs colleague out. Fortune magazine named Google
eventually teamed up with five statis- the number one place to work in the Several things influence employees’
ticians, machine-learning experts and United States in 2007 and 2008,21 perceptions of a trusting and respectful
computer engineers from outside AT&T and turnover at the company is below workplace culture (and, in turn, drive
to win the competition—three years 3 percent in an industry that averages retention): a sense that the organiza-
after it began. “When we started double digit turnover.22 tion values their contribution and cares
working on it, it wasn’t obvious what about their well being; the presence
the tie-in was to AT&T. Once we were When companies build their analysts’ of formal and informal practices
skills, knowledge and competencies in and procedures that support open
ways that also expand the organization’s interactions; and the belief that they
collective capabilities, everyone wins. can rely on their co-workers. In short,
Analysts remain professionally relevant people expect their employers to
and marketable, and the company
builds its analytical capabilities and
bolsters long-term competitiveness.
36 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
37. Counting on Analytical Talent
respect them, to create safe and Figure 18: Analysts’ intentions to stay relative to their perceptions of a culture
supportive work environments and to of trust and respect.
ensure that employees act ‘with
integrity, professionalism, clear motives Analysts who say that their employer creates a trusting, respectful and supportive
and fairness. (See Figure 18.) workplace culture are more likely to stay.
One additional factor is uniquely The people in my company value others’ unique skills and talents
important for retaining analytical 79%
talent—a really good manager. It’s 54%
common knowledge that supervisors
play an essential role in engaging and Employees in my company are able to bring up problems and tough issues
retaining employees. We found that’s 78%
especially true for analytical talent. 56%
It is not difficult to ask others for help in my company
Analysts are people too: give them
the management support they need
Analysts have a tough lot. Viewed as 51%
technical specialists, they are often
In my company, employees are not rejected for being different
isolated from their business colleagues
(or worse, from other analysts), and
they can feel that their contributions 50%
are overlooked or misunderstood. When someone in my company makes a mistake, it is not usually held against them
But top analysts are rare talent, not 61%
human calculators. They need to feel
valued and supported by their employer,
and they are likely to depart for greener In my company employees are free to take risks
pastures if they don’t. 53%
Their immediate supervisor is the
most important factor in an analyst’s No one in my company would deliberately act in a way that undermines others’ efforts
decision to stay or to go. In our study, 50%
analysts were three times more likely 32%
to stay when they believe their super-
visor acts with integrity, treats people 0 20 40 60 80 100
fairly and helps employees to succeed.
High intentions to stay Low intentions to stay
Trust in one’s supervisor was especially
important to analytical professionals:
Pros with high trust in their supervisor
were eight times more likely to intend
to stay than pros with low trust.
37 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
38. Counting on Analytical Talent
Figure 19: Analysts’ intentions to stay relative to the quality of their relationships
with their supervisor.
Analysts who have a high quality relationship with their supervisor are three times
more likely to intend to stay with their company.
0 20 40 60 80 100
Percentage of respondents
High intentions to stay Low intentions to stay
An effective working relationship A senior executive with a global Moreover, you need to invest in
with a supervisor is also essential. financial services company told us developing your supervisors’ manage-
Analysts whose managers help them that finding and developing managers ment skills. Supervisors with strong
solve problems, offer support when who can do those things well is his coaching skills and an ability to groom
they struggle and recognize their biggest challenge in his 650-person analysts for their next career step are
potential are far more likely to stay. analytics group. The managers not particularly important if your company
(See Figure 19.) For instance, the only need to understand analytical has a large or fast-growing pool of
analysts we surveyed were eight techniques and be skilled at building analytical talent.
times more likely to intend to stay good relationships with their business
when their supervisors take the time customers, but they must also be
to understand their problems and adept at coaching and developing
needs at work. In addition, analysts staff. He actively nurtures those man-
who believe their supervisor is com- agers—keeping up with them regularly
mitted to their professional growth by phone and meeting with them
and development were seven times personally four to five days a year.
more likely to intend to stay.
In order to sustain a highly engaged
analytical workforce, you need to make
sure the people managing analysts
understand their role in retention.
38 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
39. Counting on Analytical Talent
Figure 20: How are companies doing? Key performance indicators by type of analyst
Companies must improve their ability to engage and retain all types of analytical talent—especially the analytical professionals
and semi-professionals who create and use complex models and algorithms and the amateurs who rely on the output of
analytical models to do their jobs—by giving them more insight into the business, clearly defining their roles, developing
their technical skills and providing the management support they need.
Business insight Role clarity Technical skills Engagement Intentions to stay
Very poor Poor Fair Good Excellent
Counting on analytical talent effect on other employees’ engagement A few leading companies have already
or intentions to stay are crucial for put these insights into action and are
Analytical talent is vital to every engaging and retaining analytical talent. successfully engaging and retaining
organization that relies on data-driven their valuable analytical talent. But
insights, and your ability to engage Analysts are most engaged when they most companies have a lot of work to
and retain analysts is essential to understand the business side of things do. By focusing on these four factors,
your company’s success. If you are as well as the analytics, when they you can improve analyst engagement
committed to engaging and retaining know what is expected of them, and and retention, enabling you to maximize
your analysts, recognize them as a when they can keep their technical the strategic impact of your analytical
special segment of high-value employ- skills and expertise current. They are talent and expand your organization’s
ees, whose needs vary significantly most likely to stay when they have a analytical capabilities.
from those of the average employee. high degree of management support.
While analysts are motivated by many But when we examine how well com-
of the same things that drive other panies are, in fact, arming analysts
types of talent, they also have distinct with critical information about the
preferences and aspirations. Indeed, business, setting clear roles and
our research revealed that several expectations, feeding analysts’ desire
factors that have a relatively small to keep up with the latest tools and
techniques, and giving analysts the
management support they need, we
find significant room for improvement
across the board. (See Figure 20.)
39 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
40. Counting on Analytical Talent
About the Research
This report is based on three major (Kogan Page, 2007), one of the first Our survey sought to determine
studies carried out by researchers at systematic efforts to chart a strategy first, what engages analytical talent,
the Accenture Institute for High for talent management in the global and second, what influences analysts’
Performance. Jeanne G. Harris led a enterprise. intentions to stay with their companies.23
groundbreaking study of how organi- We assessed engagement by averaging
zations use analytics and published In 2008, as a follow up to these books, their responses to nine questions that
the results in a best-selling book Jeanne G. Harris and Elizabeth Craig, asked participants to describe the
(co-authored with Thomas H. Davenport) together with Henry Egan, launched frequency with which they display
entitled Competing on Analytics: The a new research project focused on the engagement behaviors at work. We
New Science of Winning (Harvard unique challenges of managing ana- assessed executives’ intentions to stay
Business School Press, 2007). The book lytical talent. We interviewed dozens by averaging their responses to three
explains how high-performance busi- of executives and surveyed more than questions that asked about their desire
nesses are building competitive strate- 1,367 full-time employees. A compre- to and expectations and likelihood of
gies around data-driven insights that hensive, web-based survey measured staying with their firms now and in
in turn generate impressive business the personal engagement, work attitudes the future. We conducted a series of
results. Elizabeth Craig co-authored, and career motivations of 799 analysts statistical analyses on the survey data
with Peter Cheese and Robert J. Thomas, and 568 non-analysts. The respondents to determine what it takes to engage
The Talent Powered Organization: were U.S. based employees of compa- and retain analytical talent. We also
Strategies for Globalization, Talent nies with at least $50 million in annual interviewed dozens of executives to
Management and High Performance revenues. They represented a wide find out how companies are managing
variety of industries and worked in these challenges.
such functional areas as finance,
IT, operations and production, R&D,
marketing and sales.
40 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
41. Counting on Analytical Talent
To investigate the relationships In this report of our findings, we
between management practices and describe the four variables that
analysts’ engagement and intentions emerged from the analyses as statisti-
to stay, we conducted two types of cally significant predictors of analyst
statistical analyses. Multiple regres- engagement or intentions to stay.
sion analysis was used to determine To provide simple illustrations of the
the influence of dozens of aspects of effects of the four significant predictors,
employees’ experience at work (e.g., job we report our findings from post-hoc
and career opportunities, organization cross-tabulation analyses of business
culture, management practices, etc.) insight, role clarity, technical skills,
on analyst engagement and intentions supportive management, engagement
to stay. We compared the significant and intentions to stay.
predictors for analytical talent to those
for non-analytical talent to determine Acknowledgement: Interview findings
the factors that are uniquely important contributed by nGenera Insight.
41 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
42. Counting on Analytical Talent
Appendix: About the Sample
Our sample compared analytical talent (n=799) with non-analytical talent (n=568).
Type of talent Type of analytical talent
Respondents came from many industries.
Industry in which you work
Financial services 12.5%
Communications and high tech 16.2%
Health and life sciences 9.2%
Consumer goods and services 6.9%
Transportation and travel services 6.1%
Public service 5.9%
Automotive and industrial equipment 4.4%
Professional services 4.4%
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
Analytical talent Non-analytical talent
42 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
43. Counting on Analytical Talent
Two-thirds of individuals in the sample worked for large organizations with more than US$1 billion in revenues,
and over half of the companies employed more than 25,000 people.
$1bn or more
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
Analytical talent Non-analytical talent
Number of employees
25,000 or more
Fewer than 1,000
0 10 20 30 40 50 60
Analytical talent Non-analytical talent
43 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
44. Counting on Analytical Talent
Survey participants worked in various corporate functions.
Primary functional work area
Customer service, support 7%
Clerical, processing 2.6%
Exective management 1.6%
Human resources 1.6%
Business development 1.5%
Administering health and mental health services 1.3%
Account management 1%
Creative, design 0.9%
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14
Analytical talent Non-analytical talent
44 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
45. Counting on Analytical Talent
The sample covered all levels within the organization, from junior staff to chief executives.
Role in the organization
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
Analytical talent Non-analytical talent
45 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
46. Counting on Analytical Talent
About the Authors
Jeanne G. Harris (jeanne.g.harris@ Elizabeth Craig (elizabeth.craig
accenture.com) is an executive research @accenture.com) is a research fellow
fellow and director of research at the at the Accenture Institute for High
Accenture Institute for High Performance. Performance in Boston. She is the
With Thomas H. Davenport, she is the author, with Peter Cheese and Robert
author of Competing on Analytics: J. Thomas, of The Talent Powered
The New Science of Winning (Boston: Organization: Strategies for
Harvard Business School Press, 2007) Globalization, Talent Management
and, with Davenport and Robert Morison, and High Performance (New York:
of Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Kogan Page, 2007).
Better Results (Harvard Business Press,
February 2010). She is based in Chicago. Henry Egan (henry.egan@
accenture.com) is a senior specialist
with the Accenture Institute for
High Performance in London.
46 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
47. Counting on Analytical Talent
Notes 10 We took into account other factors that are 18 According to research by the late Michael Driver,
1 “Competing Through Business Analytics known to affect employees’ engagement as cited in: Brian O’Reilly and Antony J. Michels,
to Achieve High Performance,” Accenture and intentions to stay by controlling for age, “Reengineering the MBA,” Fortune,
Information Management Services, tenure, education, gender, level of responsibility January 24, 1994.
December 2008. (dividing jobs into manager, manager of 19 http://strategic-hcm.blogspot.com/2008/05/
2 Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne G. Harris, managers, manager of senior managers, and hr-for-innovation-google.html.
Competing on Analytics: The New Science CEO) and company size. 20 Bala Iyer and Thomas Davenport, “Reverse
of Winning, (Boston: Harvard Business 11 Elizabeth Craig and Lauren Ready, How to Engineering Google’s Innovation Machine,”
School Press, 2007). Create and Sustain a Highly Engaged Workforce, Harvard Business Review, April 2008.
3 Thomas H. Davenport, Jeanne G. Harris and Accenture Institute for High Performance 21 http://money.cnn.com/magainzes/fortune/
Robert Morison, Analytics at Work: Smarter research report, forthcoming 2010. bestcompanies/2008/; http://money.cnn.com/
Decisions, Better Results (Harvard Business 12 According to one study, companies with highly magainzes/fortune/bestcompanies/2007/full_list/
Press, 2010). engaged workforces enjoy better performance— 22 Sarah Fletcher, “Google: Recruiting and
4 Peter Cheese, Robert J. Thomas and Elizabeth up to a 103 percent higher success rate Developing Top Talent.” Accessed Aug 26, 2009:
Craig, The Talent Powered Organization: (measured in terms of profits, productivity, http://www.hrzone.co.uk/item/164452; The
Strategies for Globalization, Talent Management customer satisfaction and employee retention)— average for high tech companies is 14 percent—
and High Performance (Kogan-Page, 2007). than their counterparts with less-engaged see “Winning the war for talent in the high-tech
5 When Accenture surveyed 254 executives employees. See James K. Harter, Frank L. Schmidt industry,” SAP Executive Insight 2008.
in 2008, nearly three-quarters said that and Theodore L. Hayes, “Business-unit-level 23 Employees’ intentions to stay are routinely
their companies were increasing their business relationship between employee satisfaction, used as an indicator of likely turnover behavior.
analytics usage. See “Competing Through employee engagement, and business outcomes: Extensive research has shown intentions to
Business Analytics to Achieve High Performance,” A meta-analysis,” Journal of Applied stay to be powerful predictors of actual retention,
Accenture Information Management Services, Psychology, 2002. especially among professionals and white-collar
December 2008. 13 J.R. Hackman and G.R. Oldham, “Motivation workers. See Aaron Cohen and Nadine Hudecek,
6 Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne G. Harris, Through the Design of Work: Test of a “Organizational Commitment-Turnover
Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Theory,” Organizational Behavior and Human Relationship across Occupational Groups,”
Winning, (Boston: Harvard Business School Performance, 1976. Group & Organization Management, 1993; and
Press, 2007). 14 In other research, we’ve found that engagement R. Steele and N. Ovalle, “A Review and Meta-
7 Chris Donnelly,“Shopping for Scarce Retail levels contribute only a small amount analysis of Research on the Relationship between
Talent: Driving High Performance in the Retail toward explaining why people stay or go. Behavioral Intentions and Employee Turnover,”
Industry Through Strategic Talent Management” See Elizabeth Craig and Lauren Ready, How to Journal of Applied Psychology, 1984.
(Accenture research report, 2009). Create and Sustain a Highly Engaged Workforce,
8 On September 21, 2009, Netflix declared Accenture Institute for High Performance
“Bell Kor’s Pragmatic Chaos,” a global group research report, forthcoming 2010.
of researchers, scientists, and engineers, as 15 Percentages include responses of “likely” or
winners of its $1 million (US) contest to “very likely.”
improve Cinematch. The winning entry improved 16 Jeanne G. Harris, “How to Fill the Analytics
the model’s performance by 10.6%. Talent Gap?” Strategy & Leadership, 2008.
9 Raymond R. Panko, “What We Know 17 The results of the cross tabulations presented
About Spreadsheet Errors”, Journal of End in this report represent comparisons between
User Computing 10 (1998): 15-21. Revised the top and bottom quartiles for the relevant
May 2008: http://panko.shidler.hawaii.edu/ variables. For example, in this case, more
SSR/Mypapers/whatknow.htm. than half of the analysts in the top quartile
of “business insight” were in the top quartile
of “engagement”, while just 18 percent of the
analysts in the bottom quartile of “business
insight” were in the top quartile of “engagement.”
47 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
48. About Accenture About the Accenture Institute
for High Performance
Accenture is a global management
consulting, technology services and The Accenture Institute for High
outsourcing company. Committed Performance creates strategic insights
to delivering innovation, Accenture into key management issues through
collaborates with its clients to help original research and analysis. Its
them become high-performance management researchers combine world-
businesses and governments. With class reputations with Accenture’s
deep industry and business process extensive consulting, technology and
expertise, broad global resources and outsourcing experience to conduct
a proven track record, Accenture can innovative research and analysis into
mobilize the right people, skills and how organizations become and remain
technologies to help clients improve high-performance businesses.
their performance. With more than
177,000 people in more than 120
countries, the company generated net
revenues of US$21.58 billion for the
fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2009. Its
home page is www.accenture.com.
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