November 5, 2020

The data skills every successful business leader should master

Chetan Chandavarkar

Topic:   Data

Last updated: February 2nd, 2021

Throughout human history, strong leadership has required an impressive skillset, and in today’s rapidly changing business landscape, the same holds true.

Business leaders need hard skills, competencies in their chosen fields of endeavor, and soft skills, those traits that people most identify with strong leadership such as the ability to communicate well, to inspire others, to think strategically, to be innovative and creative, etc.

Building these skills, both hard and soft, takes time and effort, but no one would argue that the investment is not worth it in terms of the good results for an organization or team that has a strong leader at its helm.

Strong business leadership today, though, increasingly requires the development of a new skillset – one that has the ability to energize your organization, inform your business strategy going forward, and drive better business results overall. That skillset is the ability to access and leverage data effectively.

Why data skills are essential for success

Bernard Marr, futurist and strategic advisor to many of the world’s best-known companies, observes:

“It doesn’t matter how much data your organization collects; it isn’t beneficial until it gets put to work for your organization. Data must be analyzed to get actionable insights before it provides business value.”

To understand the significant role data must play in modern business leadership, you have to take a step back and think fundamentally about what your role as a business leader entails. Your essential tasks as a leader include motivating your team to work productively and making business decisions that will improve the bottom line and align with overall business objectives.

That sounds simple enough, but it can get complicated when you consider the sheer volume of data at hand to discover and explore. First, there is the challenge of accessing it. Then, there is the challenge of ensuring that the quality of the data you have is high and that you can trust it. Finally, there is the challenge of actually making sense of the data you have to gain real, actionable insights from it.

When you can address those challenges, however, the pay-off is rich. According to a McKinsey report regarding how to achieve business impact with data, data-driven insights help with both top-line business use cases such as improving customer-facing activities in the areas of pricing, churn prevention, cross- and up-selling and promotion optimization and in bottom-line business use cases such as predictive maintenance, supply chain optimization, and fraud prevention.

Why business leaders must move beyond dependence on IT

One obvious question that arises as business leaders take on new data skills is: why do we need to do this? Isn’t this what our IT department is supposed to be doing?

The simple answer is “no.” As a business leader, you need self-service reporting capability. You don’t want to have to wait for a day,  a week, or even longer for your IT department to run a customized report for you. You need a real-time answer to your real-time business question, so that you can make a real-time business decision or take advantage of a real-time business opportunity.

Mastering data discovery and data exploration skills means that you can make use of your time and data wisely while freeing up the resources of your IT team for more in-depth data projects that will be a value-add for your organization as a whole, a win-win scenario.

How ibi can help

ibi helps business leaders access and use their data effectively with intuitive data tools that do not require special coding skills. To learn more, download the white paper “Data discovery and exploration for all: the new business gold standard.”

Chetan Chandavarkar is the vice president of Product Marketing and Market Intelligence at ibi. He is responsible for developing a deep understanding of the market, competitors, and clients. He partners with Product Management to shape product roadmaps and develop impactful value propositions, and works closely with the Marketing and Sales teams to build compelling go-to-market plans. Most recently, in his last role at Pitney Bowes, Chetan was the general manager of a $100MM+ line of business. In addition, he ran a Product Management team that drove product adoption and activation across the company’s digital, SaaS, and new offerings.

Data, data everywhere, but can your core business users use and access it?


Read our white paper “Data discovery and exploration for all: the new business gold standard” to learn how ibi helps organizations achieve better data use across the board.