Developing analytical leadership
Jeanne G. Harris and Elizabeth Craig
Purpose – This paper aims to set out key steps in the development, engagement and retention of
analytical leaders, showing why they are such a core resource, highlighting the key types of analytical
talent and focusing on the core skills needed to attain analytical proﬁciency.
Design/methodology/approach – The research is based on a comprehensive survey of 799 analytical
professionals employed by large US companies across a range of industries carried out in July 2008, as
well as on the book Analytics at Work by Thomas Davenport, Jeanne Harris and Robert Morison, which
was published in 2010.
Findings – The research identiﬁed the core skills requirements for each of the four main types of
analytical talent, highlighting the skill set needed by analytical leaders. Where developing and retaining
this vital resource is concerned, it was found that analysts who understood their roles were six times
more likely to be engaged than those who did not.
Practical implications – Organizations need to take steps to develop, care for and retain their
analytical talent. This is a prerequisite for establishing analytical leadership in a recruitment market
where competition for analytics talent is increasing all the time.
Originality/value – As well as drawing on exclusive research, the paper shows that Accenture uses
case studies based on in-depth interviews and thought leadership to demonstrate analytical leaders’
Keywords Talent, Leaders, Development, Skills, Management development, Leadership
Paper type Research paper
onfronted with unprecedented volatility throughout today’s business environment,
organizations need to be equipped to reconﬁgure their strategic priorities at speed.
For most companies, this means re-evaluating the quality and effectiveness of their
decision-making processes – processes that were, in many cases, severely exposed by the
recent ﬁnancial crisis. Instead of relying on intuition, the priority is to seize competitive
advantage by leveraging maximum beneﬁt from the vast amounts of information (structured
and unstructured) now available.
The key to their success in doing so is predictive analytics – using quantitative methods to
derive actionable insights and outcomes from data. Organizations such as Google, Tesco,
Best Buy and Caesars Entertainment Corp, all analytical leaders in their own right, are
realizing powerful beneﬁts by being able to predict market trends, identify customer
behaviors and pinpoint workforce stafﬁng requirements. The importance of analytics cannot
be overstated. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts an increase in demand of
13 percent for statisticians, 22 percent for operations research analysts, and 24 percent for
management analysts – all by 2018 (Lacey and Wright, 2009). This surge in demand will see
new analytics-based roles being created and, potentially, whole new departments
dedicated to implementing analytics strategy.
DOI 10.1108/14754391211186287 VOL. 11 NO. 1 2012, pp. 25-30, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1475-4398
STRATEGIC HR REVIEW
Jeanne G. Harris and
Elizabeth Craig are both
based at Accenture
Institute for High
q Elizabeth Craig,
Jeanne Harris and Accenture
2011. All rights reserved.
Accenture, its logo and High
Performance Delivered are
trademarks of Accenture.