Hire a Data Translator instead of Data Scientists

It doesn’t matter how much you invest in data technology. However, it is worthless if the data isn’t analyzed and communicated to decision makers so that they can take action from the insights. Although some organizations try to communicate data findings between departments, it is not common for something to get lost in translation once it reaches the decision-makers. According to a McKinsey survey, only 18% of companies think they are capable of gathering and using data insights efficiently. Some organizations have chosen to use a data translator in order to bridge this gap.

Two clients approached me recently about data translators. One wanted me to fulfill the role of chief data translator, while the other needed my assistance in training and recruiting data translators. This sudden interest in the new role led me to think it would be a good idea for me to investigate what a data translation is and if your organization requires one.


What’s a data translator?

Data translators are a link between data scientists and executives. They have the ability to understand the business needs of an organisation and can communicate tech to other members of the organization in an easy to understand manner.

The professional must be able to “talk the talk” with both executives and data scientists. They can extract the business meanings and applications from the data scientists’ information. They are not only respectful of the work of data scientists but also understand the needs and requirements of decision-makers. Therefore, data translators who have been successful in translating data into business meaning are often respected by these entities.


How data translators can help organizations?

Data translators bridge the gap between executive decision-makers and data scientists within an organization. They can communicate in a language that is understood by decision-makers.

Data scientists prefer to be independent when assessing data. They don’t have to explain to non-technical people what the data means, how it can support or solve business problems, or to pull in executives to discuss data insights.

Sometimes executives can dismiss data, which can have a negative impact on those who are responsible. Although decision-makers like to feel in control, they can be uncomfortable when confronted with data that they don’t understand.

Data translators are experts in understanding the core business objectives of organizations and can help identify business actions based upon the data. This is possible because they have the ability to extrapolate from the executive or data scientist’s findings. They can help the organization achieve its goals by adding value to data insights.

Data translators can guide conversations about data and help to identify biases in data usage. Both cases can be affected by the individual viewpoint of the person using the data. Data translators can help you identify when your team is off-track. Data is an important input to business decisions but it’s not all that important.


What skills is a data translator required?

Sometimes, an organization might need multiple data translators with different expertise. However, the skills listed below are what a data translator should have:

  • You want to ask questions and gain a deeper understanding about issues (business and data).
  • Confidence to challenge the perceptions and biases at all levels of an organization
  • Solid understanding of business requirements.
  • To communicate effectively with data scientists, you need to have an understanding of analytics or a desire to learn it.
  • Giving others the opportunity to understand by using accessible language is a passion.


What are the signs that your company needs a data translation?

Organizations add data translators to reduce frustration, miscommunication, and maximize business returns. It could be a sign that your data is not being used to its full potential. Better communication might be the solution.

It is possible that you already have someone who could be qualified to fill this role. They only need to possess the communication skills necessary to communicate with executives and data scientists. They have a good understanding of your business operations and can help you become a successful data translator.


Data translator rather than data scientist?

Let’s not forget that you will likely need both a data scientist and a data translator. I’ve had the privilege of working with data scientists who had both the analytical and data translation skills.

Data translators are a new role in the expanding data-related workforce. They could help organizations extract even more value from their data.

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