The Shortage of Talent in Big Data

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3 October 2014

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Big data, once brushed off by many as simply an overused buzzword, is now recognized as a primary source of competitive advantage by businesses across all industries. Big data and analytics have quickly become a high priority among companies of all sizes, and many organizations are scrambling to locate the talent to help them mine and analyze the data that drives strategic decision making.

The Big Data Talent Desert

Once they start on their quest to capitalize on big data, however, most companies realize not one, but two harsh realities:

  1. Their in-house teams lack the skills to give meaningful insights into data sets.
  2. It’s difficult to locate and hire those analytics professionals and data scientists who do have the necessary skills required to drive decision making.

In 2013, McKinsey Global Institute released a report entitled, Game changers: Five Opportunities for US Growth and Renewal. The authors note that the shortage of talent in the big data sphere will continue for the foreseeable future. They project 1.5 million new big data jobs will be created globally over the next five years, but US employers will face a shortage of up to 200,000 employees with the skill sets needed to do the job.

The Right Mix of Skills and Business Acumen

The biggest challenge for employers when it comes to locating big data talent is that those with the right technical skills often lack the business experience to truly be able to give valuable insight. Recent graduates of advanced degree programs often went straight from a bachelor’s program into their master’s; and they have spent little, if any time out in the field.  Some data scientists may have spent their entire careers working on databases in a bubble, as they were never required to apply their technical skills to make business decisions.

Big data positions are a unique hybrid of technology and business. Professionals have to have extensive knowledge about a particular industry, and how their decisions will affect an organization as a whole. This mix of skills is difficult to find, as big data is still a relatively new field. Candidates looking to capitalize and grow their careers in big data should be willing to achieve advanced degrees not only in math or statistics, but they should also be willing to apply themselves in gaining business knowledge, as well.  In many cases, data scientists also hold MBAs with specialties in areas like finance, strategy, and information management.

If you are an organization looking to connect with big data professionals, or of you are a data scientist or analyst looking for new opportunities, contact OnBoard Recruitment Advisers today. We specialize in analytics and data-related positions in a variety of fields.  We can help your company close the big data talent gap.

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