The whole field of big data is booming, and many organizations are actively looking out for the right talent to analyze vast amounts of data. Much of this is driven by the fact that big data if used properly has the potential to transform businesses and further provide them with a competitive advantage.
To successfully manage and process big data, various organizations are depending on new tools and technologies which require a niche expertise. According to information technology research and advisory firm Gartner, big data will create more than 4.4 million jobs by 2015, opening up plenty of opportunities for analysts, computer scientists, mathematicians and other data-savvy job seekers.
In spite of this explosion in business demand, organizations are currently short of experts who can make sense of unstructured data flowing from mobile devices, sensors, social media and other sources. To minimize the talent gap, many universities and niche training institutes are offering advanced courses which provide skill set training needed to manage and analyse big data. Some of the colleges have also started graduate programs in data analytics field which would better prepare the students for careers in big data.
Earlier big data skills were quite popular in defence and technology sectors. As the big data technologies became cheaper and more easily accessible, more and more sectors joined the movement and the competition for big data talent became fiercer. Currently e-commerce companies and social media services are leading the demand. Other sectors on the lookout for big-data skills include food manufacturers, retailers, consulting companies, gaming, online travel, consumer finance, telecommunications and insurance, according to a report published by a career site Dice.com.
Big data talent should consists of a combination of skills – good knowledge of statistical and analytical skills, an understanding of how big data can be used to make better business decisions; and computer programming expertise for big data analysis. So those who are ready to take the plunge and make a career in Big Data, knowing that the potential for high growth and success is tremendous, must take that first step in beginning their Big Data Training.
Let us now look at some of the hottest sectors in Big Data.
Retail & E-Commerce
Retail is one of the high potential areas for big data. A survey conducted by research firm IDC revealed that retailers are looking at big data and analytics to derive business benefits. Companies can bring together both online and offline data along with transactions information to better understand factors driving the shoppers behavioral traits. Some online businesses such as Amazon uses advanced algorithms, which allows it to develop automatic recommendations for customers based on their purchase history data.
Beyond purchase data, retailers are looking at a whole array of new data sources – web browsing data, social data and geotracking data which further helps in thorough segmentation of customers. A major problem faced by retailers is identifying the right set of people who can work with big data and build mathematical models which would automatically recommend a product to a customer. This problem can be handled to some extent with IT engineers being able to work with big data management systems, but they do lack statistical and business knowledge which are a key aspect for deriving business value.
Historically Banking and financial management firms are rife with transactions data, with hundreds of millions records generated on a daily basis. With digitalisation, a variety of data sources – social media, information portals and customized web applications are adding more information to industry’s existing ocean of data.
Many of these firms are facing challenges in terms of putting big data to work. Firstly it is time consuming to set up and manage a cost effective analytics platform on top of big data sources, and secondly firms lack the talent pool of data scientists and software engineers to execute such a complex solution implementation. Even though some of the cloud services are offering on-demand big data infrastructure, financial institutions are reluctant due to privacy and security concerns.
Considering the above aspects, this sector is one of the front runners for big data talent without any doubt. Also due to the risk of being left behind by their competitors, many companies are putting in efforts to acquire right talent which will help them extract valuable intelligence from data quickly and efficiently.
Similar to other sectors, communications service providers all over the globe are witnessing significant data growth due to increased adoption of smart phones, rise of social media and growth of mobile networks. Many of these firms are tackling big data challenges so as to gain more market share and increase profit margins.
Big data can help service provides achieve some of the key business objectives – provide better customer service with the help of internal and external data, implement innovative product services using segmentation techniques, and develop strategies to generate new sources of revenue.
Since the entire industry has just started realizing the big data potential, getting access to big data talent is still a concern. Over the years, IT departments across this sector did provide support on data management, business intelligence and launching new applications; currently they do lack the skill set needed to handle and operationalize big data sources. One of the reasons for this is a paradigm shift from a traditional database management systems to Hadoop and NoSQL database systems which are the primary management solutions for handling big data. Big data talent pool would be able to work with such databases, ask the right business questions and further tell compelling customer stories using big data.
In the current scenario, it is clear that shortage of big data talent is one of key challenges for many sectors to implement successful big data projects. However in my opinion, this phenomenon would be reaching equilibrium in the very near future. Not only are academia and industry putting in tremendous efforts put to create a big data ready workforce but there is also a widespread awareness among young professionals that Big Data is one of the hottest careers today. As such they are taking initiatives to gain the necessary Big Data skills so they can begin their career in the Big Data world.