The power of big data is now easily accessible by companies of all sizes. As a result, many SMEs are changing their data strategies to deliver interactive, insight-driven, and visualised reports. This change in the market has caused a significant shift in expectations when it comes to hiring BI managers. They now need to be competent across an increasingly wide range of business and technical skills.


Key data trends


Hands-on management
BI managers can’t afford complacency. They are now expected to keep coding well into their management years as this means problems can be spotted (and resolved) quicker ‘in the trenches’.


Data ambassadors
BI managers now need to be data evangelists too. It’s their responsibility to coach teams throughout the business on
the benefits of using data to optimise decision making and workflows.


Data visualisation
Data isn’t very helpful if it’s difficult to understand. In the past, only a handful of skilled employees could make sense of large data sets. But with the advent of
visualisation platforms such as Qlikview and Tableau, data can now be understood by everyone. Virtually all SMEs are using these tools to transform complex data into attractive, interactive visualisations that convey a clear message. Proficiency with a range of different visualisation platforms is no longer a “nice to have”.


Data professionals can’t simply develop automated reports any more. They are now expected to be innovators. Analysts are now commonly required to offer suggestions for business change and present
relevant insights to key stakeholders in the business.


Data in the cloud
Hybrid cloud strategies are fast becoming industry-standard. Many businesses now rely on cloud-based data warehouses such as Amazon’s Redshift to save on storage and maintenance costs, whilst creating a centralised data warehouse for BI.


Alternative data sources
Companies are now pulling data from the web, social media, and countless IoT devices to enable data managers to deliver
richer, more impactful insights.


A flexible approach to hiring


The future of the data field lies in an amalgamation of the trends listed above. However, there are very few companies that are performing optimally in all these areas. Most are doing well in some and poorly in others.


This has created a hiring problem in the data space. Only a handful of professionals have relevant experience in all the areas listed above. And those that do typically command hefty salaries that most SMEs can’t afford. Therefore, it’s important to be flexible with your hiring requirements. Don’t be too quick to dismiss candidates who are not ready made data managers on paper.


Focus your efforts on finding a bright, passionate candidate, who demonstrates a clear understanding of the changes happening within the data space. While they may not be experienced in all aspects of data, given time, they should be able to get up to speed in the areas they are lacking.


The pre-requisite for success: A blend of technical ability and business acumen


It’s easy to overlook the unique type of leadership skills required to succeed as a BI manager. To get the job done effectively, they must possess a blend of business acumen and technical ability. This is arguably the most important trait to consider when hiring a BI manager. If the candidate is well versed in both these areas they should be able to hit the ground running in the new role.


To bridge the perennial gap between business and IT groups, a BI manager must have a foot in both worlds. They must serve as an intermediary who can translate functional business goals into technical plans, and conversely technical constraints into business reality. As a result, an understanding of these two worlds and an ability to speak each of their languages is the sine non qua of BI management.



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