With a staggering 90% of the world’s data created in the last 2 years alone, ‘Big Data’ has become the latest marketing buzzword as brands look to make sense of the wealth of personal data consumers are giving away online and on the move. But new research shows that there is a growing skills gap as industries struggle to keep up with the information age.
The One Poll survey, commissioned by Teradata, indicates that in 42% of UK companies currently looking to recruit data scientists and other big data analytics roles, pressure is coming from CEOs as they become increasingly aware of the value of big data in driving strategic advantage for their business.
Adding to the pressure from the boardroom, 39% of UK CIOs and 12% of CMOs are also pushing for additional resources to maximise big data analytics benefits, the study found.
The survey of 300 senior executives in the UK, France and Germany found that, across all three countries, 42% of businesses are actively recruiting or planning to recruit data scientists, analysts and other specialists. Of these, more than one third (36%) highlight the commercial potential of big data analytics in meeting their strategic goals.
Big data analytics is moving centre-stage within the enterprise, as 44% of European organisations have a big data analytics strategy or roadmap in place. Almost half (47%) are already running big data analytics projects or have plans to do so within two years.
“Not so long ago, many companies saw big data analytics mainly as an IT project meeting IT goals,” says Duncan Ross, Director Data Sciences, Teradata International. “This survey confirms a growing understanding that harnessing big data analytics effectively can bring company-wide benefits. However, to deliver on these new analytics opportunities companies need to identify and recruit the right staff.”
Although IT experience remains important, companies across all three countries are increasingly looking for a blend of skills to successfully implement big data analytics initiatives. Within the business, for example, 37% anticipate that potential candidates will come from existing employees with business skills, such as business intelligence or business analytics expertise, compared with 46% who expect recruits to have an IT background.
In other survey findings:
A majority (51%) of new recruits working on big data analytics projects will report to departments other than IT, rising to 63% in the UK. In almost one quarter (23%) of companies, the new team will report directly to the board.
More specifically, the majority (58%) are struggling to find candidates with the right mix of skills. Although technical experience remains of greatest importance, other essential attributes include problem-solving skills (cited by 43%, rising to 55% in Germany), analytical skills (42%) and creativity (35%).
62% of firms overall agree that there is a skills shortage in the area of data science, and big data analytics, rising to 65% in France. Only 12% in total are confident that no such problem exists.
The emphasis is on experience rather than intellect, with only 24% looking for degree level qualifications and 19% for graduate recruits.
Firms see external recruitment as key to success, as 45% believe that bringing in skilled experienced people is the most effective way to build a big data analytics team, rising to 52% in France. This compares to only 16% overall who believe this is best achieved by repositioning and retraining existing staff.
“Companies are very clear on what they need in order to make the most of the opportunities big data analytics offers them, with only a tiny minority still struggling to define what they are looking for,” says Ross. “It is excellent to see that creativity is recognised as a vital factor here, something that is not usually associated with traditional IT roles. At the same time, it is worrying that businesses are still looking first and foremost for IT skills, with analytical and mathematical ability seen as less important.
“The survey found that there is no shortage of candidates with departmental expertise. By contrast, nearly half of those questioned believe that the real problem lies in finding more recruits with a more blended combination of business, IT, analytics and communications skills, a problem felt especially acutely by UK firms. This mix is essential to identify the huge competitive benefits which effective big data analysis can deliver,” Ross adds.
For a full summary of the survey results and related resources, including visual representations of the results click here (registration required).