Simply collecting big data does not unleash its potential value. People must do that, especially people who understand how analytics can resolve business issues or capture opportunities. Yet, as most executives know, good data people are hard to come by.
That’s why companies need to recruit and cultivate “translators”—specialists capable of bridging different functions within the organization and effectively communicating between them. But looking for a single translator at the right intersection of all the various skills you need is like looking for a unicorn. It’s more realistic to find translators who possess two complementary sets of skills, such as computer programming and finance, statistics and marketing, or psychology and economics. In all but the rarest of cases, you’ll need at least two translators to bridge each pair of functions—one of whom is grounded in his or her own function but has a good enough understanding of the other function to be able to communicate with a counterpart grounded there. That’s because when this process works best, it’s a collaboration rather than a straight “translation.”