Big Demand for Big Data Analysts

As big data continues to grow, more businesses may take steps towards a ‘data-led’ way of working.

Speaking at the Gartner Symposium, Peter Sondergaard of the Gartner Group, said: "Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine."

His point highlights the importance of big data and the impact it is likely to have moving forward in the business world.

And even though it is unlikely that big data will replace traditional relational business intelligence systems, IT professionals with experience in big data analytics are likely to become a hot commodity for UK firms in the future.

In a recent article for Computing, John Leonard discussed the emergence of big data and what it could mean for the business world and the IT community.

He points out that big data “rarely replaces” existing solutions and is instead employed in situations where its “ability to process voluminous or diverse data sets makes it a better fit than more traditional enterprise software”.

What’s more, he points out that although the implementation can and will benefit some businesses, it is in effect useless until there is a sufficiently skilled infrastructure in place to process and analyse such large quantities of information.

Enter the IT professional

IT professionals will be no strangers to constantly adapting and changing the way in which they work. With technology and software always evolving and advancing, there is always a new skill to acquire that will make an IT professional a more valuable asset to the modern employer.

Businesses looking to introduce big data technologies into their way of working will need staff with the relevant skills, namely those who are able to operate as a data scientist or data explorer.

These roles will become increasingly important for businesses looking to become more ‘data-led’ and, according to Computing, are “notoriously hard to recruit”. This indicates it could be possible for existing data analysts to fill these gaps by undergoing the necessary training.

Capitalising on the skills shortage

Some 34 per cent of businesses who responded to Computing’s survey stated that the biggest barrier for them to implement big data was in fact a lack of skills internally or finding the right skills from elsewhere.

Alongside cost, this was the joint top problem modern firms faced when introducing big data solutions.

In a recent round table talk, Techrepublic found that those with big data skills were among the most sought after professionals in 2014. This is perhaps not surprising as more firms look to cloud technology and other new solutions in order to run their operations.

With this in mind, it’s clear to see how an IT professional with specialist big data skills can make themselves more valuable to modern businesses.

Assembling the team

Where possible, businesses looking to introduce big data solutions will want to create  multidisciplinary teams in order to get the best results out of their software.

And while it’s undeniable that those with big data skills will be very useful in this scenario, professionals with traditional business intelligence skills will also be crucial.

“BI is still hugely underutilised in its more traditional form,” said one respondent to Computing's survey.

Anyone possessing BI skills will have a head start when it comes to entering the world of big data due to their experience of handling, analysing and storing raw data.

As previously discussed, these professionals could be the ones who are most equipped to train as big data scientists.
It’s not just down to the individual

Obviously, a professional with the aforementioned skills is likely to be sought after by businesses experimenting in big data. However, the firm itself also needs to ensure that there are certain factors in place to create a data-led culture.

This can be addressed by looking at how a company currently deals with its BI information, according to John Leonard. Without a clear strategy in place regarding the use of big data, firms will struggle to achieve positive results even with the right personnel in place.

Although some are sceptical about big data, there are an equal amount who are certain it is the future. In terms of the current IT sector, it is certainly a sought after skill for an IT professional to have and therefore should be considered by anyone working in the industry.

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