Can retail compete for data scientists?
While many sessions at the NRF Big Show 2017 explored the potential of capitalizing on Big Data, a few touched on the challenges of finding employees equipped to handle that onslaught of information.
“I think we all want to hire three million data scientists…but we’re all fighting for the same talent,” said David Abbott, VP, integrated media and online marketing, Home Depot, at a session exploring purchase intent analytics.
Mr. Abbott said any hires to his team must be comfortable with data as a “prerequisite.” He also looks to individuals who are “intellectually curious” enough to learn on their own as data tools are bound to significantly change year after year. Mr. Abbott added, “None of us were born with data science in our heads or anything like that. So, if you have intellectual curiosity and at least some degree of comfort with data, that’s 9/10ths of the battle.”
At the same session, Jeff Rosenfeld, VP, customer insight and analytics, Neiman Marcus, noted that the rate of technology change is “absolutely amazing.” His team manages 10 to 15 tool sets now versus only one or two when he joined Neiman about 12 years ago. Mr. Rosenfeld added, “It forces us to have to really prioritize and identify what are the things that we want to develop ourselves and what are the things we want to partner with the best of breed vendors out there to really help escalate the path.”
At another session focusing on attracting and retaining retail talent, panelists discussed how technology is creating demand for new skillsets not only around analytics but social media and website development. Bill Brand, president of HSN, said the retail industry needs to “look for people in nontraditional backgrounds who never really thought retail was for them.”
Kip Tindell, Container Store’s CEO, who introduced the session, noted that the industry is competing against “some of the most advanced companies in the world to fill” more high-tech talent while having to battle “outdated myths and misconceptions about retail jobs.”
- Building Tomorrow’s Workforce: How Retailers Are Attracting and Retaining Talent – National Retail Federation
- Data: The New Currency for Retail Marketers – National Retail Federation
- Building Tomorrow’s Workforce: How Retailers Are Attracting and Retaining Talent – YouTube
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do retailers face major challenges attracting quality applicants for analytical roles? What adjustments or compromises may be necessary to attract and retain the talent needed to for these jobs?