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Big data, big talent shortage

Big data. It’s big business and it’s only getting bigger - Gartner Research reports that big data drove $28 billion of IT spending in 2012, with 2013 estimated at $34 billion. An enormous $232 billion is estimated in IT spending cumulatively from 2011 to 2016. From small tech start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, big data launches are happening all over. 85% of Fortune 500 companies have already launched (or are planning to launch) big data initiatives. That’s a lot of companies looking for a lot of people. And not just any people. The major challenge for big data recruitment is the requirement for candidates with the rarefied skill-set - outstanding analytic ability and that all-important commercial acumen - to add real value. It’s no wonder estimates suggest that only around one-third of global demand for new big data jobs will be met.

Data analytics may have been crowned “the sexiest job of the 21st century” by Harvard Business Review, but the current pool of hireable big data talent needs filling up. McKinsey & Company estimate that by 2018, in the US alone there could be a shortage of 140,000 – 190,000 people with the depth of analytical skills needed to match demand. Add to that the 1.5 million strong shortage they predict of managers and analysts with the expertise to analyse the data to make effective decisions, and that would suggest a big problem.

So why is it so difficult to find these big data guns? Accenture sum up the problem with precision: “what is really needed are the specialists that focus on quantitative analysis and information modelling, with a specific objective of helping the rest of the business make smarter decisions. Furthermore, they also need to be adept at the more political challenge of helping executives improve their decision-making processes, by providing fact-based insights that can complement their expertise and instincts.”

Over the last few months, we’ve found clients are increasingly looking for candidates with a data pedigree and this is likely to continue. At FreshMinds Talent we have a particular interest in the nature of this challenge. Whilst it’s certainly a current issue in the world of big data, it’s neither a challenge specific to the industry or a brand new problem in business. We pride ourselves on being experts at finding exceptional analysts with commercial acumen for our clients. These individuals are always going to be scarce, competitively sought-after and in high demand, but this makes them all the more exciting to find.