Can Augmented Analytics help to plug the UK skills gap?

There’s been huge publicity around the digital skills gap in the UK, with data analysts and data scientists in particularly high demand.  As far back as 2015, the European Commission issued a report that highlighted the problem, indicating that 77% of data analyst jobs remained unfilled and predicting a 160% increase in demand until 2020.

With 346,000 data scientists needed to fill the gap during that period, even a concerted education and recruitment drive is unlikely to have much impact.  So why is this skills gap such a huge issue for so many organisations, and how can technology help to address the problem?<

Putting the dark art of data analysis under the spotlight

Not only are data scientists and data analysts hard to come by, but they’re also extremely expensive to hire, making them a cost-prohibitive resource for all but the very largest organisations.  And even if you can afford to recruit specialist data analysts, they are not business experts, which means there’s still a huge amount of input needed from line of business executives to ensure that the analytical results are actually relevant and actionable.  In practice, data scientists spend 60% of their time cleaning and organising data and about 20% collecting data sets, which means 80% of their time is taken up with just preparing and managing data – leaving just 20% of the time for actual data analysis.  And because they are just human beings, their scope to work through burgeoning data volumes has to be limited to the information they think has the most potential to drive valuable business insight.  With a typical data scientist only analysing a relatively small 10% of the available data, this means you could still be missing out on potentially valuable insights from the remaining 90%!

Too much data to analyse

With industry predictions suggesting that the volume of data generated by businesses will increase 20,000-fold during this decade alone (2000 to 2020), the demand for data analysis to help unlock its business value is simply too great to handle.  Wherever it originates from – be it internal business systems, connected devices, social media or any other source - the potential business value of data can only be realised if it can be analysed effectively to drive actionable business insights that power and accelerate decision-making.  After all, without the manpower to work out what all the data actually means, what’s the point in collecting it in the first place?

How can augmented analytics make a difference?

In Gartner’s 2017 paper titled ‘Augmented Analytics Is the Future of Data and Analytics’, the authors define Augmented Analytics as ‘a new approach to automating the Business Analytics process through the use of Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing’.  Essentially, it brings together business intelligence (BI) and artificial intelligence (AI), to automate the processes of finding data, preparing it for analysis and generating insights.

From a business perspective, this means that the need for specialist data scientists and data analysts could be negated – with the actionable insight generated through Augmented Analytics presented in a way that will enable accelerated and improved decision making by any line of business executive.

According to a Forbes article Gartner: Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2018, any analytics software vendor that wants to remain competitive will have to incorporate Machine Learning and NLP into their business solutions as soon as possible. Next generation augmented analytics software can automatically prepare and cleanse data, and perform feature engineering to find key insights and hidden patterns - interpreting results and presenting unbiased alternatives along with actionable recommendations.  This level of automation enables in-depth analysis across millions of variable data combinations that would simply be too time consuming for a human to do manually. 

So instead of trying to recruit and retain expensive, highly sought-after data analytics specialists, perhaps organisations would be better advised to take a close look at the potential for Augmented Analytics to deliver a much greater return on investment

Want to explore this subject further?

MHR Analytics has been offering specialist Business Intelligence and Analytics solutions for over 10 years, with a proven track record of successful implementations.  If you’d like to explore how your organisation could take advantage of technology to help drive greater value and insight through your business data, you can contact the MHR Analytics team through our website.