3 questions to ask yourself before your next BI hire

Author: May Campbell
Posting date: 2/13/2019 2:40 PM
Data & Analytics are a vital part of every organisation nowadays, so it is not surprising that the importance of Business Intelligence keeps growing. With increasing demands from executive management, operations, and sales, a stronger and better BI team is essential. 

The responsibilities of the BI team include but are not limited to: performing Data validation and Data Analysis, delivering KPI related reports and dashboards, and working with end users to define business requirements and needs. However, as every company is different, every BI department is different as well. This means that from one BI team to another, the needed skills can vary completely. To get the most out of your team, it is important to have a clear understanding of what skills you already have, which skills you need to add with your next hire, and whether this is realistic for your business. 

Here are three important questions to ask yourself before your next BI hire: 

1) What does your team look like at this moment?


To be successful in expanding your team, it is vital to take a closer look at the type of profiles and skillsets you already have. This is a good time to map out where the skills are in your team and see what is lacking, or what can be improved. To do so, you should consider three key elements: how (much) Data is used and made available, how this Data is structured and what is being done with this Data. The following three questions are important here: 

  • Do you get the right Data out of your Datawarehouse/Data Lake?
  • How is the Data structured now, and do you get the reports and dashboards needed? 
  • Are you able to provide stakeholders with the right insights?

These questions can function as starting point of deciding what skills you have now, and which areas to focus on with your next BI hire to fill in gaps or improve the areas where needed.

2) What does your Data Roadmap look like? 


It is important to have a clear vision of where you want to go with your BI team and how to leverage your Data. At the highest level, your vision will be determined in a Data Strategy. On a more practical, day-to-day level, the steps to take are outlined in a Data Roadmap, with every part of the process requiring a different skillset. 


What we often see is that companies who are at the start of their Data Roadmap, first hire a Data Analyst. Typically, a Data Analyst knows how to work with the Data and has a strong business sense but is not a specialist in either field. On the other hand, when the Data infrastructure has been set up, the need is higher for someone who can make sense of the Data and present this in reports and dashboards. 

Two key points to consider:

  • What is the next step in your Data Roadmap? 
  • What type of skillset is needed to get to that next step? For example, this can be technical skills such as building Data Pipelines or stronger analytical skills to get insights from the Data. 

By having a clear understanding what phase of your Data roadmap is next, it will be easier to hire the next member of your team.

3) What is realistic for your business?


While you may know what type of profile(s) to hire next, it is important to determine whether this is feasible. The following factors are important to consider:

  • As with every field of expertise, the salary ranges depend on which type of profile you are looking to hire. It is vital here to ask yourself where to invest your money best. For example, it is great to have an Insights Analyst in the team, but is this type of profile the main priority? You might want to first hire a Data Analyst to structure the Data and build useful reports.
  • The candidate market within Data & Analytics is tight, so think about what you can give them in return to attract the best talent. A training program for personal development and the possibility to work flexible hours are two selling points that make your company stand out from the rest. 
  • Location is key for many candidates. Businesses in larger cities are more popular with strong candidates in comparison to more remote businesses.

 It is clear, therefore, that multiple factors are involved in determining what your next BI hire should be in terms of skillset and profile. 

If you are looking to expand your BI function but not sure where to start, get in touch and I can advise you on the best next steps.  

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Using Data Ethically To Guide Digital Transformation

Over the past few years, the uptick in the number of companies putting more budget behind digital transformation has been significant. However, since the start of 2020 and the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, this number has accelerated on an unprecedented scale. Companies have been forced to re-evaluate  their systems and services to make them more efficient, effective and financially viable in order to stay competitive in this time of crisis. These changes help to support internal operational agility and learn about customers' needs and wants to create a much more personalised customer experience.  However, despite the vast amount of good these systems can do for companies' offerings, a lot of them, such as AI and machine learning, are inherently data driven. Therefore, these systems run a high risk of breaching ethical conducts, such as privacy and security leaks or serious issues with bias, if not created, developed and managed properly.  So, what can businesses do to ensure their digital transformation efforts are implemented in the most ethical way possible? Implement ways to reduce bias From Twitter opting to show a white person in a photo instead of a black person, soap dispensers not recognising black hands and women being perpetually rejected for financial loans; digital transformation tools, such as AI, have proven over the years to be inherently biased.  Of course, a computer cannot be decisive about gender or race, this problem of inequality from computer algorithms stems from the humans behind the screen. Despite the advancements made with Diversity and Inclusion efforts across all industries, Data & Analytics is still a predominantly white and male industry. Only 22 per cent of AI specialists are women, and an even lower number represent the BAME communities. Within Google, the world’s largest technology organisation, only 2.5 per cent of its employees are black, and a similar story can be seen at Facebook and Microsoft, where only 4 per cent of employees are black.  So, where our systems are being run by a group of people who are not representative of our diverse society, it should come as no surprise that our machines and algorithms are not representative either.  For businesses looking to implement AI and machine learning into their digital transformation moving forward, it is important you do so in a way that is truly reflective of a fair society. This can be achieved by encouraging a more diverse hiring process when looking for developers of AI systems, implementing fairness tests and always keeping your end user in mind, considering how the workings of your system may affect them.  Transparency Capturing Data is crucial for businesses when they are looking to implement or update digital transformation tools. Not only can this data show them the best ways to service customers’ needs and wants, but it can also show them where there are potential holes and issues in their current business models.  However, due to many mismanagements in past cases, such as Cambridge Analytica, customers have become increasingly worried about sharing their data with businesses in fear of personal data, such as credit card details or home addresses, being leaked. In 2018, Europe devised a new law known as the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, to help minimise the risk of data breaches. Nevertheless, this still hasn’t stopped all businesses from collecting or sharing data illegally, which in turn, has damaged the trustworthiness of even the most law-abiding businesses who need to collect relevant consumer data.  Transparency is key to successful data collection for digital transformation. Your priority should be to always think about the end user and the impact poorly managed data may have on them. Explain methods for data collection clearly, ensure you can provide a clear end-to-end map of how their data is being used and always follow the law in order to keep your consumers, current and potential, safe from harm.  Make sure there is a process for accountability  Digital tools are usually brought in to replace a human being with qualifications and a wealth of experience. If this human being were to make a mistake in their line of work, then they would be held accountable and appropriate action would be taken. This process would then restore trust between business and consumer and things would carry on as usual.  But what happens if a machine makes an error, who is accountable?  Unfortunately, it has been the case that businesses choose to implement digital transformation tools in order to avoid corporate responsibility. This attitude will only cause, potentially lethal, harm to a business's reputation.  If you choose to implement digital tools, ensure you have a valid process for accountability which creates trust between yourself and your consumers and is representative of and fair to every group in society you’re potentially addressing.  Businesses must be aware of the potential ethical risks that come with badly managed digital transformation and the effects this may have on their brands reputation. Before implementing any technology, ensure you can, and will, do so in a transparent, trustworthy, fair, representative and law-abiding way.  If you’re in the world of Data & Analytics and looking to take a step up or find the next member of your team, we can help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more.

It Takes Two: Data Architect Meets Data Engineer

Information. Data. The lifeblood of business. Information and data are used interchangeably, gathered, collected, and analysed to create actionable insights for informed business decisions. So, what does that mean exactly? And to that end, how do we know what information or data we need to make those decisions? Enter the Data Architect. The Role of a Data Architect Just like you might hire an architect to sketch out your dreamhouse, the Data Architect is a Data Visionary. They see the full picture and can craft the design and framework creating the blueprint for the Data Engineer, who will ultimately build the digital framework. Data Architects are the puzzle solvers who can take a jumble of puzzle pieces, in this case massive amounts of data, and put everything in order. It’s their job to figure out what’s important and what isn’t based on an organisation's business objectives. Skills for a Data Architect might include: Computer Science degree, or some variation thereof.Plenty of experience working with systems and application development.Extensive knowledge and able to deep dive into Information ManagementIf you’re just starting your Data Architect path, be prepared for years of building your experience in data design, data storage, and Data Management. The Role of a Data Engineer The Data Engineer builds the vision and brings it to life. But they don’t work in a vacuum and are integral to the Data Team working nearly in tandem with the Data Architect. These engineers are building the infrastructure – the pipelines and data lakes. Once exclusive to the software-engineering field, the data engineer’s role has evolved exponentially as data-focused software became an industry standard. Important skills for a Data Engineer might include. Strong developer skills.Understand a host of technologies such as Python, R, Hadoop, and moreCraft projects to show what you can do, not just talk about what you can do – your education isn’t much of a factor when it comes to data engineering. On the job training does it best.Social and communication skills are critical as you map initial designs, and a love of learning keeps everything humming along, even as technology libraries shift, and you have to learn something new. The Major Differences between the Data Architect and Data Engineer RolesAs intertwined as these two roles might seem, there are some crucial differences. Data Architect Crafts concept and visualises frameworkLeads the Data Science teams Data Engineer Builds and maintains the frameworkProvides supporting framework With a focus on Database Management technologies, it can seem as though Data Architect and Data Engineer are interchangeable. And at one time, Data Architects did also take on the Data Engineering role. But the knowledge each has is used differently.  Whether you’re looking to enter the field of Data Engineering, want to move up or over with your years of experience to Data Architect, or are just starting out. Harnham may have a role for you. Check out our current opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to learn more.  

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