The Data Science/Decision-Maker disconnect.

Data is Easy, Deciding is Hard. Tracy Allison Altman explains why subject matter experts struggle to communicate effectively with executive decision makers, and how to improve the process: Focus on specific questions and the insights that answer those questions; visualize decisions, not data.

Why Your Company Needs Data Translators. Chris Brady et al. in MITSloan Management Review, Winter 2017. Often we see a disconnect between data scientists and business executives. It’s time for a new role: the data translator closes the ‘interpretation gap’ between quants and decision makers.

IBM and Silicon Angle ask Can a ‘data translator’ break silence between IT and the C-suite? A new role that goes beyond algorithms and whips together hard data know-how with business intuition is opening at enterprises. This really important skillset is the data translator.

Analytics in Action: Breakthroughs and Barriers on the Journey to ROI. Accenture study reveals the urgent need to translate data-driven insights into actions and outcomes.


Analytics Managers: Take the lead when teams tackle business problems. Get free collaboration tools. Derisk and debias with our Data-to-Decision method.

Leading companies emphasize decision leadership.

Diverse translator teams synthesize complex, analytics-derived insights into actionable business recommendations. You Don’t Have to Be a Data Scientist to Fill This Must-Have Analytics Role. Nicolaus Henke et al. in Harvard Business Review, 5-Feb-2018. Requires domain knowledge and presentation skills, plus technical or STEM understanding.

Doubtful. In Will Data Scientist Continue to be the Sexiest Job? Tom Davenport explains how today’s data science will be edged out by automated machine learning tools. Plus, consider this from a hiring manager: “If I have to choose between people who know data science, and analysts who understand the business problem, the data, and the behavior of customers, I will take the analysts every time — they are much more useful.” Another reason why Data Translator skills are essential for long-term career growth.

The Age of Analytics: Competing in a Data-Driven World. McKinsey Global Institute, Dec 2016. The translator is the “link between analytical talent and practical applications to business questions…. We estimate… demand for approximately 2 million to 4 million business translators in the U.S. alone….”

What are key decision leadership skills?

Your Analytics Team Needs a Liberal Arts Major describes how a diverse team helps promote quality and discourage cognitive bias. “Liberal arts skills are needed at every level of data science, from storytelling and communication of insights through to the training and interpreting of the most advanced machine learning applications in your business.”

In praise of “light quants” and “analytical translators”. Tom Davenport finds that “almost every organization would be more successful with analytics and big data if it employed some of these folks…. A ‘light quant’ is someone who knows something about analytical and data management methods, and who also knows a lot about specific business problems. The value of the role comes, of course, from connecting the two.”


Hey, data people: Get free collaboration tools for guiding the Data‑to‑Decision workflow. Search the Knowledge Graph, explain insights, collaborate with decision makers.

How to transform your analytics team.

“Analytics teams must step outside of their functional silos. They need to start looking at the business more holistically and connect the dots…. They need to evolve from data providers into insight integrators.” The Translation Layer: The Role of Analytic Talent. Lori C. Bieda (formerly Executive Lead of Customer Intelligence at SAS).

The Power of People: Learn How Successful Organizations Use Workforce Analytics To Improve Business Performance. Nigel Guenole,‎ Jonathan Ferrar,‎ Sheri Feinzig. Data translators turn the technical outcomes from analytics projects into insights that business leaders can understand and act upon.

Robert Kelley of Data Iku explains three emerging data analytics roles in Need a Data Translator? Try an Analyst. Data Explorers, Data Modelers, and Data Product Managers round out a future-ready organization, where the Data Product Manager exhibits strong Data Translator skill.

The Talent Dividend: Analytics talent is driving competitive advantage at data-oriented companies. Sam Ransbotham, David Kiron and Pamela Kirk Prentice in MITSloan Management Review, 2015.

Big Data for Boundary Spanners course at the Analytics Academy (Amsterdam). Topics include determining and defining business questions for data science.

Gartner says a time-oriented narrative arc relates directly to the priorities of decision makers. Use Data and Analytics to Tell a Story.

Companies stumble over talent acquisition barriers, internal leadership difficulties, and… the rigidity of overregulated corporate culture. Machine Learning: Bridging Between Business and Data Science. White paper by Altexsoft.


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