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In today’s digital age, information is constantly being created, collected, stored, and analyzed. Every aspect of customer behavior can be translated into data points and interpreted by different technologies. With the unstoppable expansion of the data universe, organizations need more of their employees to have the analytical skills to comprehend the ubiquitous amount of data and transform it into actionable insights.

To analyze data, it first needs to be extracted from databases. Currently, the most popular language used for querying and manipulating databases is SQL. While we often think of SQL as a tool used in technical roles, such as programmers and data scientists, many people today in “non-technical” roles such as marketing and sales are being trained in SQL to better leverage data and extend their professional capabilities. 

What is SQL?

SQL stands for Structured Query Language, and it’s a programming language that can be used to easily extract and manipulate data from servers and databases. Organizations typically have massive amounts of data associated with their business, such as sales data, employee data, and so on.

Because the data volume is too high to be stored in applications like Excel, companies store the data in servers, either on-premise or in the cloud. SQL essentially allows the user to provide a set of criteria and easily choose what data they want to access.

Giving Your Company a Competitive Edge

As organizational silos break down, teams are becoming more cross-functional. Data fluency is becoming increasingly important for those in non-programming roles. A marketer or salesperson who’s fluent in SQL can work directly with primary data without needing people from other teams to provide them with organized data sets.

As a result, they can progress much more quickly and effectively on their team’s projects and not have their requests stuck in an IT department queue.

In addition, with SQL being a high-demand skill in the market, upskilling employees in non-programming roles to be proficient in SQL will give your organization a competitive advantage against others in your industry. You will be able to empower your employees to solve problems, meet customer needs, and seize market opportunities more efficiently.

SQL Applications in Marketing

Jamie Steven, former CMO of Moz, commented: “Technical skills are becoming a requirement for success in online marketing. The marketers who know SQL, can write code, leverage APIs, and perform quantitative analysis will be the most desirable and productive individuals in our industry.”

A data-driven marketer with SQL proficiency can easily create marketing campaigns without having to request technical assistance from developers or data scientists. For example, they can use SQL to query their email database when determining which customers to target a new product release email to.

They can analyze the results of different marketing campaigns and discover the ideal demographics to target. SQL can also be used to run advanced queries on Google Analytics data.

While the standard interface allows users to use primary and secondary dimensions to create segments, SQL has more extensive capabilities, such as adding even more dimensions or advanced filters. The possibilities are endless.

SQL Applications in Sales

Salespeople and Sales Operations staff can use SQL to further explore their CRM data. Suppose your organization wants to find out from your Salesforce data how many deals are closed each month and how long it takes to close them.

While the first question can be answered by simply using Salesforce’s filters, answering the second question is much more complicated as it requires calculations. Though the raw data could be exported into Excel and then manipulated to calculate the time it takes to close the deals, this method isn’t very scalable. The data would no longer be live, either. However, by running a SQL query, answering the second question becomes much more simple.

By querying CRM data using SQL, your sales team also can answer questions such as the probability of deals closing once they advance to different stages or how long it takes for a prospect to advance from one stage to the next. Learning SQL will give your salespeople and sales operations staff the ability to extract valuable insights from their sales data without ever having to ask developers for help.

These are just a few examples of how SQL can be used in non-programming roles. With the explosive growth of data and the demand for technical skills on the rise, SQL skills are no longer just for people on your Data Science or IT teams.

When your marketers, salespeople, and other employees in traditionally “non-technical” roles are trained in SQL knowledge to query and analyze data, they will gain the analytical tools to make better decisions and become technical assets to your organization.

If you’re looking to upskill your employees with one of the essential skills for working with data today, you can learn more about our SQL Nanodegree program offering. By filling the SQL skills gap in your company, you will be able to build an efficient and adaptable workforce that will help you stay ahead of the competition.

Learn more about Udacity’s enterprise offerings here.

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