A Snapshot of Skills in Data and Insights Today

By Arundati Dandapani, Founder, Generation1.ca

As a former (2020-21) MRII Reg Baker Award Winner and a friend of the MRII both through my work at various industry associations and beyond, my take on the future of skills comes from a very deliberate place of creating jobs and opportunities where none existed. All this, while also connecting skilled workers to existing opportunities in data and insights in the US and Canada. My objective has been to complement the existing wealth of data insights garnered from global reports on the state of industry spending, budgets, consumer trends and ancillary overviews across trade media with a new story on skills development each year with our primary research.  Generation1.ca’s skills study for the insights and data industry monitors skills-needs in the cross winds of change to harness educational and training opportunities post the pandemic. While “AI” was unanimously declared the key area of concern by respondents, and a threat to marketing research jobs and even work, it was also acknowledged that transformation is co-created and that the skills needed to succeed in this rapidly changing day are immense and multi-faceted. 

At the recent Generatlon1.ca North American Virtual Insights Career fair entitled “Beating the Data Deluge: Success in a Changing Industry” held on April 28, 2023, I offered a morning talk “Fighting the Data Deluge: Less Understood Truths about Insights and Innovation Today” to drill-down on five themes below that really emerged from our industry skill study research which drew from 150 quantitative responses to a 5-minute survey of hiring managers or insights business leaders around the world, followed by in-depth re-contact qualitative interviews with twenty-five leaders. Further reportage and sub-themes will be offered in our numerous upcoming publications and presentations. If you would like to partner on any of our future skills study waves for coming months and years, please reach out to me and secure your spot today!

  1. Data’s Multidimensionality – Even as we are seeing a growing volume of data flood our lives and businesses each day (and thus the name of the conference beating the data deluge), we are also seeing massive or significant data deficits. Whether it is missing records and datasets, hard to measure / collect data, for e.g. missing births, missing deaths and particularly COVID health data that guides public health decisions, but also other sectors like in legal cannabis where user awareness is still quite low benchmarked against other legal market products especially internationally (outside North America). This becomes at some level a data quality problem. In how this translates to skills needed: we see an increasing demand on the foundational skills in everchanging times. Research design, communications, research methods, data preparation, problem scoping and data collection – all vying for the “top-two skills” spot. This is especially emphasized when agile tools and DIY methods have surged in the marketplace, calling to attention a greater need for rigour in data collection analysis and interpretation to mitigate risks and keep reputation and stakeholder / client trust intact. 
  2. Quantitative Futures – As skill sets have exploded with the volume and velocity of datasets growing, embedding numeracy in the context of various approaches whether it is collaborating across finance, marketing, IT, ESG, policy and privacy are all strong examples of the predominant power of quantitative research methods and analysis. The  lion’s share of revenues (83%), according to the Global Market Research Report, continues to be earned by companies using quantitative methods. Yet just being a number-cruncher won’t cut it in the new world, as the AI-human dynamic intensifies, and the ability to understand, teach and apply will hold more value than just mass computing. Data literacy in its expanded sense will need more quantitative thinkers who can work across contexts, teams, approaches and data-sets with the sound industry or sectoral / business knowledge and client-understanding to succeed.
  3. Creative Credentialing – Whether this means augmented credentials, micro-credentials or a culture of ongoing learning and development incentivised across organizations, creative credentialing will go a long way in talent development and retention at a time where seven in ten hiring managers did not cite the importance of professional certifications. The value of post-secondary diplomas in research on the other hand are seen in equivalence with Masters programs with data and analytics concentrations. The value of higher credentials (e.g. PhDs) also seem to be outweighed by the other opportunities to upskill like with technology certifications (e.g. AWS), or non-degree certifications (e.g. PMP) that attest to competency in a range of specific technical expertise or other functional skills.
  4. Reinvention – The past five years have been a period of re-invention in several realms. Reinvention is all about recognizing the hard work in legacy and building on the roots of foundational skills to reinvent the profession for new uses, new applications and new opportunities with data and insights innovation with strong industry knowledge. For my academic client readers, there are huge opportunities in responding to education needs (and education has also really stood out among top employing sectors across industries according to the 2023 Future of Jobs report by the WEF) with enhanced outlook on newer statistical software and other framework infusions like equity, work ethics, active listening, project management, and so on.
  5. Purpose Led Innovation – As the founder of a social platform primarily built on notions of equity and justice, in responding to issues like immigrant underemployment and non-recognition of immigrant skills, experiences or accomplishments, it makes sense to further emphasize the importance of purpose-led innovation for brands and individuals. This includes drawing from more EDI, ESG, CSR and other fit-for-purpose frameworks. Organizations, teams and individuals that lack such higher-purpose can tend to mistake the journey for their destination and get disappointed when a certain environment or culture fails their values or mission. Thus, the clearer that purpose is at the outset, the easier it is to wield influence (with strong communication skills!) in a changing world as a jobseeker, career-seeker or an employer on the hunt for lasting talent. 

I would like to end my brief analysis here with a tweet by @Talentapy: “The war on talent is over: talent won,” that I think is what our goal should always be as a profession.

Generation1.ca’s 2023 North American Virtual Insights Career Fair was widely supported and promoted by various academic institutions including Algonquin College, Humber College, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, George Brown College, University of Sherbrooke, Centennial College, University of Waterloo, Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, playing host to 10 leading employer booths across USA and Canada. Our virtual insights career fair created and facilitated meaningful career connections, charting inclusive futures, nurturing diverse brand builders, facilitating international business plans and overall encouraging the mix of high-caliber talent with leading brands and employers with various speaker tracks running throughout the day to aid as resources in the job-search, work integration, or work-life journeys of disparate movers and arrivers, career seekers and attendees. In addition to employment opportunities, several speakers, employers and attendees admitted they benefited from the experience of networking and learning from each others’ perspectives. You can find all our career fair presentations and discussions uploaded here in the coming days.

Arundati Dandapani MLitt, CAIP, CIPP/C, is the Founder of Generation1.caa  platform and community powered by its unique Moments of Truth (MoT) knowledge engine, that places Canada’s immigrant newcomers, non-profits and legal cannabis at the forefront of data and insights innovation globally. She is the author of two books, the editor and contributor of several trade publications, global textbook publisher, a certified information privacy professional, and a seasoned analytics, insights and non-profit association leader and has also served as the founding CIO and founding COO of the Canadian national industry associations CRIC and CAIP-PAIM Canada. She has earned notable industry honours including serving as a 2022 and 2023 Insight250 Judge for the ESOMAR-led awards program, is the Vice Chair of the Advisory Board of Algonquin College’s Marketing Research and Analysis (MRA) Program in Canada and is on the Certification Advisory Board of the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Arundati is also a Data and Insights Instructor at Humber College’s Research Analyst Program and has often taught guest lectures at other institutions. She has also presented at, chaired or reviewed presentations for global industry forums at AAPOR, WAPOR, MRIA, ESOMAR, CRIC, CAIP, Market Research Institute International (MRII) and the University of Georgia (UGA) among others. Find her on Twitter at @itadnura, or email her at arundati@generation1.ca. 

Share this post:
Share this post
Recent Posts

Subscribe to our Newsletter

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: . You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact