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IT Departments Battle for Data Analytics Talent

By Rich Hein, CIO
December 12, 2012 10:45 AM ET

CIO - Few areas of the IT job market have seen the growth and disparity in supply and demand that the data analytics field has experienced. As big data continues to get bigger and the analytics field continues to mature, it's becoming a core part of business and the decision-making process. Competition for top analytic talent is going to be fierce as more companies enter the hiring fray.

In a report on big data, the McKinsey Global Institute predicts that by 2018, the U.S. will be facing a massive shortage of analytics personnel.

ANALYSIS: How IT can become a driver of business growth

"There will be a shortage of talent necessary for organizations to take advantage of big data. By 2018, the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions." - McKinsey Global Institute Report

The McKinsey report also predicts that companies that use analytics to its full potential could increase operating margins by up to 60 percent. Enterprises are heeding the call, creating competition for the top talent.

Reinforcing just how competitive the market is, a Dice report from earlier this year lists the present IT unemployment rate somewhere around 3.6 percent.

"Today's CIOs need some 'data is data' thinkers who are not intimidated by how 'big' the data is or whether it encompasses SKUs by store, clicks by offer, or price changes by home listings," says Scott Bailey, executive vice president of strategy and analytics at Target Data. This type of role is becoming so crucial that companies that struggle to find these people could face product launch setbacks and any number of project delays as a result.

Related Story: 5 Business Analytics Tech Trends and How to Exploit Them

Business Analytics Is a Driving Trend

Some of the major factors driving this trend are explosive growth in big data as companies rush to find useful, actionable data among the ever-growing amounts of data being collected. According to a recent Accenture poll of 258 North American business leaders, 72 percent plan to increase spending on business analytics this year. "The demand is extremely high and the supply is very low-- especially at the more senior levels (i.e., more 'mission critical' analytics). That means there is not a lot of competition for jobs," Bailey says.

Furthermore, experts warn that schools and universities haven't caught up to this trend and aren't yet teaching the skills necessary to fill these analytics jobs. The Accenture poll also notes that many developing nations are beating the U.S. when it comes to graduates with degrees in these quantitative fields.

Overcoming Shortage of Skilled IT Workers

There are no shortcuts here. Your company should be formulating its plans for finding the right mix of analytical skills combined with business knowledge and experience in its particular field. To attract the talent you need, Anil Kaul, CEO of AbsolutData, an analytics and research firm, offers these tips to get started.

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