New Role At Marketers: Data Translator

A gap between data analysts crunching the numbers and decision-makers in the field means that companies will need to hire employees to fill a new position called data translator, according to an article published in MIT Sloan Management Review.

The article's authors -- Chris Brady, a professor of management studies at the Centre for Sports Business at the University of Salford in Salford, U.K.; Mike Forde, a consultant specializing in performance and talent management for professional sports teams; and Simon Chadwick, a professor of sports enterprise and co-director of the Centre for Sports Business at the University of Salford -- created a checklist of skills they believe data translators will need to have.

The skills include knowledge of the business to pass the street-cred test with executive decision makers; analytics knowledge, or a willingness and ability to acquire it to communicate effectively with the organization’s data scientists; the confidence to speak the truth to executives, peers, and subordinates; a willingness to search for deeper knowledge about everything; the drive to create both questions and answers in a form others find accessible; and a high sense of quality standards and attention to detail.



The new role is all about helping marketers make sense of the numbers, and translate each of the figurative languages and cultures, according to the article.

Data translators seem to be an offshoot of data scientist, an expert with a background in mathematics, econometrics, operations research or statistics, and the technical skills to solve complex data problems and the curiosity to explore the possibilities.

In July 2016, Gartner forecast that by the end of 2017 the number of citizen data scientists will have grown five times faster than the number of highly skilled data scientists. A citizen data scientist is "a person who creates or generates models that leverage predictive or prescriptive analytics but whose primary job function is outside of the field of statistics and analytics."

Other data roles within a marketing organization include the chief data officer, whose staffing and budget responsibilities including establishing an operational department.

Some 54% of organizations Gartner surveyed said their office of the chief data officer positions (OCDO) were fully or partially implemented, with another 20% already exploring, planning to explore or planning to implement the position within the next year. Only 19% said they are unlikely to implement an OCDO.

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