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CRE’s Data Gold Mine is Worthless Without Addressing Skill's Gap

The industry has a clear problem with how we process our data.

Data collection causing more problems for flex operators and landlords?

It’s more than likely that your business is sitting on data that could prove hugely valuable… but – and it’s a big but – only if it can be captured, analysed and actioned in the right way. The frustrating reality for many landlords and flex operators is that they are failing to realise the value of their data.

And it’s not their fault – but we’ll come onto that.

A widening digital skills gap

Over the past decade, advancements in cloud computing, big data, AI, and IoT have created huge opportunities for flex operators, allowing them to glean insights from more and more data for competitive advantages, operational efficiencies, and commercial opportunities.

But the pace of tech development has dramatically outpaced education and training, creating a so-called ‘digital skills gap’ affecting businesses across virtually every sector, not least CRE.

For context, the global digital economy is predicted to grow from 66 million jobs today to 190 million by 2025 – roles likely in data analysis, AI, machine learning, big data, digital marketing and strategy, and process automation to name a few.

But watch out; here comes some ugly statistics:

  • In the UK, an estimated 20% of the workforce will be significantly under-skilled for their jobs by 2030.
  • Already, 58% of UK employees say that lacking digital skills has affected them negatively in the workplace.
  • Meanwhile, two-thirds of UK businesses reported last year that they were grappling with a digital skills shortage within their workforce.

Overcoming the skills shortage

The reasons for the skills gap and how to solve it is a much, MUCH bigger debate – a can of worms not to be opened here. The point is this: a lack of people with sufficient digital skills, especially around data analytics, is hindering countless businesses from leveraging the advantages that data could provide, and we know from first-hand experience at NCG that landlords and flex operators fall into this category.

Here, Adam’s ten-point plan raised some very useful tips. But with the skills gap in mind, I’ll share three of the most pertinent, over-arching points to consider:

  1. Landlords and flex operators need to have a sharp focus on what they want to achieve from their data analytics. Putting skills to one side, the experts within the business must assess which pain points they want to address, or commercial objectives they want to achieve, and then consider the data and tools that’ll be required to enable them to do so.
  2. Visualisation tools hold the key. No one can realistically stare at streams of raw data and get an immediate, clear picture of what’s happening. That’s why so much investment has gone into data visualisation software so businesses can make sense of the numbers via easy-to-navigate platforms. The result – the holy grail – is “actionable insights”. Landlords and flex operators will need to capitalise on such tools.
  3. Take a joined-up approach. The true value of tech and data comes when taking a strategic, holistic approach. So, it’s best to avoid viewing data analytics as a siloed activity but rather something that must bring together multiple data points and different tools—again, all the while focused on a specific question you want answered or the outcome you want to achieve.

We’ve all heard the cliché that ‘data is the new oil’. But sitting on an oil field is no use if you only have a bucket and spade. Landlords and flex operators will need to rely on third-parties to help them access the skills and tools they need to extract value from the mounds of data they’re sat on.

The potential for better using data in CRE and flex spaces is huge. However, the data skills issue will remain. That’s why collaboration between tech vendors, landlords and operators is so important in ensuring as much of the heavy lifting is done by the specialists, allowing their clients to reap the benefits.

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