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1. Counting on Analytical Talent By Jeanne G. Harris, Elizabeth Craig and Henry Egan March 2010
Contents 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 2 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
Counting on Analytical Talent Executive Summary 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. 3 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
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 4 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
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 5 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
Counting on Analytical Talent 6 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
Counting on Analytical Talent How to Create a Talent-Powered Analytical Organization 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 management capabilities. 7 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
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 8 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
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. 9 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
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 Requirements: • 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 technical solutions • Programming ability is desirable: C, Matlab, Java, Perl, Unix/Linux 10 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
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 11 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
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 Professional 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 12 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
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 in Services.” 13 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
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. 14 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
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. 15 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
Counting on Analytical Talent 16 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
Counting on Analytical Talent How to Organize Your Analytical Talent 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.” 17 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
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 Analytics group Analytics project 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.
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.
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. Centralized Centralized 35% 33% 17% 28% Center of excellence Center of excellence 29% 41% 14% 22% Internal consultants Internal consultants 23% 24% 28% 33% Concentrated in one functional area Concentrated in one functional area 24% 30% 24% 27% Decentralized Decentralized 18% 27% 24% 29% 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. Priorities 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 or functions • 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 consolidating structure Low High 20 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
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 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 Centralized 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% 32% 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.
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% 26% 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 36% on this dimension. 18% According to our survey, analysts in Center of excellence 28% centralized units, functional groups 20% and centers of excellence had more insight into their company’s business Internal consultants 23% than analysts in internal consulting 27% groups or analysts who were decen- tralized. (See Figure 8.) These more Concentrated in one functional area 30% 20% Decentralized 22% 24% 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.
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, Centralized whereas just one in five analysts in 33% the other models has this degree of 17% insight. (See Figure 9.) Center of excellence 21% 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 their company. Organizational fit Centralized In many companies, analysts are viewed 47% differently from the rest of the work- 11% 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 Internal consultants that value analytics and with colleagues 26% that appreciate and respect their 19% talents. They are most engaged when Decentralized 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 27% 19% 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.
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.
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 career opportunities Centralized Center of excellence Internal consultants Decentralized Concentrated in one functional area Low High 25 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
Counting on Analytical Talent 26 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
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 valuable breed. 27 | Accenture Institute for High Performance | Copyright © 2010 Accenture. All rights reserved.
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. Analytical Non-analytical 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.