Data dilemmas: Analytics, infrastructure, governance and talent
July 9, 2019
Focus Area—Innovation & Technology
Although Canada’s public data woes recently attracted national headlines, our federal government is not the only organization struggling to collect, produce, and analyze useful data. Many of Canada’s private, academic, and non-profit sector businesses are also struggling to adapt to our data-driven world.
At our recent Council for Chief Data and Analytics Officers meetings, senior leaders from across Canada have been sharing stories of their cross-sectoral data dilemmas. Four of the most pressing dilemmas include: analytics, infrastructure, governance, and talent.
Canadian organizations face many challenges when it comes to analyzing data. Different analytical methods yield different results at varying speeds for different sizes and types of data sets. There are best practices for certain types of data, and less-clear choices for others. By sharing practical examples from their businesses, our Council members are learning about the pros and cons of these approaches.
Infrastructure type, cost, and availability are top of mind for many of our Chief Data and Analytics Officers. Data lakes, warehouses, and hubs each provide unique performance levels, and require different skill sets to implement, maintain, and use. Not every business challenge has a clear infrastructure solution, which is why many of our Council’s members enjoy sharing their unique solutions.
Establishing and enforcing a data governance process is an enormous challenge, but a necessary one. Who is responsible for collecting, maintaining, and analyzing certain datasets? How often do datasets get updated? What role does the legal team need to play? Our Council members answer these questions by describing their years-long governance journeys; every organization adopts a different approach to data governance that suits its unique needs, considerations, and constraints.
Access to top technical talent is a documented challenge for many businesses across Canada. Data scientists—who often possess a variety of skills, including but not limited to business analysis, statistics, economics, behavioural science, and computer science—have many opportunities to find work. As a result, our Council members have all experienced recruitment and retention challenges. Recruitment and retention become even more of a dilemma when organizations take social and emotional skills into consideration.
Dr. Vanessa Thomas
Senior Research Associate I