Never argue with the data.

Over the weekend I was chatting with a friend of mine who was asking about what kind of jobs I thought would be in high demand in the next few years. At some point we were talking about LINUX and the “Grep” command, particularly it’s usefulness to find a text variable in a data file. Could it be that Grep was the forefather of Big Data? In either case, I made the point that if she wanted to be in a field that would be in significant demand, Big Data is going to be (no pun intended) big.

First some statistics, in the US, a McKinsey Global Institude report predicts that by 2018 the demand for Big Data professionals will exceed supply by up to 190,000 positions, and US enterprises will need about 1.5 million (!) more managers and business analysts who can understand the data. The problem is that the skillset doesn’t exist yet.

So there are really 2 ways that we need to think about when it comes to dealing with the gap in Big Data. Firstly, we could look to education to start creating content to help fill the gaps. Unfortunately, this isn’t easy to do. The technology is still evolving, and to get the right resources in place to teach such critical skills will take time.

The other option is to look at service providers. Big Data Analytics services are going to be something required by all organizations to compete in a post-cloud competitive landscape. By offering the right technology and analytics, service providers could create huge value for customers by helping them make sense of their data as part of a cloud service. We’re already seeing big systems integrators such as IBM and Accenture and also platform vendors like Teradata setting up models to support analytics services.

For organizations who wish to develop internal big data teams, the best place to start is to look at your employees and identify next-generation workers. These employees are attracted to open source tools and cloud computing, want to use the latest and greatest tools and are focused on developing their career paths. The downside is that organization needs to nurture these employees to maintain their loyalty as these skills are highly valuable to other organizations as well.

Big Data is going to be the driving force behind how companies operate in the next 3-5 years, so it is key to start putting together a strategy to take advantage of these new technologies.

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