Certainly, we are living in a highly interconnected digital world where our daily usage of technology is being looked at as a drop in the ocean of big data. Based on an 2011 IDC Digital Universe Study, it was estimated that global data volume was about 1.8 Zettabytes as of 2011 and will grow about 5 times by 2015. As an Analytics practitioner and trainer, I must say the advantages for application of analytics on big data are tremendous. Businesses across the globe have started taking this fact more seriously to gain significant advantage over their competitors. However though many companies are becoming aware of the importance of big data, there are many who are unsure of how to achieve the said success. These companies must realize that the success of their big data initiatives would really depend on new technologies and most importantly, on skilled talent who can create business value using big data.
Given the pressing need for big data talent, companies are on the lookout for people with the right qualifications and deep analytical skills. In order to meet the growing demand for skilled big data professionals, organizations and education institutions across the world are putting in a lot of efforts to teach big data skills. So far they are doing a good job in terms of equipping people with advanced analytics technologies and much needed business expertise.
This complex set of skills can be easily built as an advanced big data layer on top of your existing knowledge of statistics, programming and databases concepts. I specifically highlighted the earlier point just to stress on the fact that big data knowledge is no rocket science and anyone with some needed pre-requisites can become a big data professional. In this article, I am going to talk more about those needed pre-requisites which would definitely help in smooth acquisition of big data skills.
Before detailing on the helpful pre-requisites for big data skills, I would say that this list is completely based on my knowledge and expertise in this domain. You might come across some professionals who claim to have none of these prior traits. I would not deny the possibility of such an event happening, just that it would be more of a rare event chance. I believe having these pre-requisites would help you become a successful big data professional and further empower companies with big data advantage.
Many companies depend on hadoop like big data technologies to acquire vast amounts of data being generated daily. Major contribution to this business data exhaust is coming from unstructured forms of data such as text, images and videos. As a big data professional, one should be comfortable in using programming languages to query data from hadoop databases and also should be able to write crawling algorithms to extract unstructured data from web. Typically streaming with hadoop databases can be done using languages like Java, Python or R. So having a natural flair for coding, basic knowledge of some programming languages and good understanding of databases would come a long way in your big data training. I am only trying to say that if one does not have these essential programming traits, then the learning curve would be much steeper.
One of the key aspects involved in big data analytics is application of right statistical technique for any given business problem. How would one decide which approach works best? Say for a problem of product recommendation, which machine learning algorithm helps me find a solution. This kind of expertise would definitely be a value differentiator since businesses need realistic and innovative data driven solutions. Underlying factors behind such solutions would be good background of statistics which gives a shape to the data and further provides us confidence limits for putting any developed solution to a practical use. I am not trying to say one should be master of all machine learning algorithms and statistical concepts, but an understanding of how statistics is applied to data for deriving meaning insights would be beneficial. However if one does not know anything about statistics prior to big data training, this wouldn’t affect your learning curve much since you can easily build up your statistics knowledge.
This would be one of the core pre-requisites which would make you stand out from the crowd. As many industry experts quote, big data professionals are the people who fit at the intersection of multiple domains. Lot of the work involves gathering data from various departments within an organization and further transform them into business ready recommendations. These professionals should be able to communicate their ideas effectively across departments and also come up with creative solutions for various complex problems. Thus they need to be curious minded, excellent in communication and possess good problem solving skills. One other aspect many organizations heads talk about is ability to handle uncertainty. Apart from providing Business Intelligence solutions, big data professionals should also be more forward looking and be able to build smart data systems/products which can predict future success.
We hope that those of you who are contemplating investing in some Big Data training, find this article useful. I you have any more points or insights to add on to this list we would love to hear from you.
Interested in a career in Big Data or Data Science? Check out Jigsaw Academy’s courses and find out how you can get started: