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Forrester urges CIOs to outsource analytics to data scientists

There is huge demand for data scientists – but rather than build skills in-house, analyst Forrester suggests CIOs can outsource to specialist providers

CIOs should consider outsourcing data analytics to so-called insight providers, to support data-driven business initiatives. 

Analyst Forrester uses the term "insight provider" to describe IT, data services companies and business consultancies that work with organisations to enable them to run complex analytics.

Most organisations do not have the skills to work internal and external data sources to make meaningful business decisions.

Speaking at the Forrester Forum in London, principal analyst Jennifer Belissent, said: “There’s a data capability gap."

She said almost half of organisations in a recent survey said they prioritise improving data and analytics technologies.

Yet there is a challenge in terms of skills, according to Belissent.

She said: “While 73% firms want to be data-driven, only 29% say they do a good job turning data into actions.”

A quarter of organisations Forrester spoke to said they have capabilities to deliver data dashboards to business users days. A further 25% said such dashboards would be ready in weeks. But for advanced analytics, Belissent said only 9% of the organisations the analyst firm spoke to said they could respond to the business in days; 19% said it would take weeks.

For most, the task of delivering advanced analytics is too complex to deliver in a timely fashion.

While 74% of the executives Forrester spoke to said they are hiring people with data analysis skills – and hundreds of job vacancies are advertised – finding and retaining data scientists is not easy, according to Belissent.

Insight services

She said that, to plug the skills gap and embark on analytics projects: “Insight services are able to help answer certain questions for the business.”

As an example, she described how a global consumer packaged goods company used such a service to enable it to create a business strategy to target city dwellers. 

It needed demographic data, weather data, transaction data from different banks, and who were the social media influencers.

Read more about insight providers

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  • IBM is promoting its Watson natural language processing analytics technology as it tries to move its core business beyond technologies that it pioneered, but which have become commoditised. Will it fly?

Rather than attempt to build this capability in-house, Belissent said the company issued an request for proposals, enabling an external provider to bid for the contract to provide the required data insights.

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