So where can companies go to acquire Big Data talent?
Unfortunately, there is not a lot of talent available to hire. That's partly because Big Data has only recently exploded on the scene as an area that demands attention. The scarcity of talent is also due to a lack of focus on data analytics in higher education. Data analytics is not just an IT discipline – it requires significant mathematical and statistical skills.
Although several institutions of higher learning are rushing to add additional coverage of these areas in their curricula, it will take years before Big Data talent starts flowing out of higher learning institutions in volumes that can begin to address even current needs. Firms such as IBM and SAP have begun working with universities across the globe to help them establish programs that will help fulfill the need for data scientists, data analytics professionals, and data-savvy managers. But creating new educational programs is only a first step - students also need to be encouraged to participate in the programs by making them aware of the opportunities in Big Data, including an understanding of possible career paths and the financial rewards of tackling Big Data opportunities.
Since there isn’t a ready supply of available talent today, many companies are being forced to look at ways to develop the talent in-house. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of excellent books being published on Big Data that can help existing employees become familiar with Big Data and Analytics. Here are some currently available titles, with more coming from leading publishers over the coming months: (Note: The links below take you to the Amazon pages for these titles. These titles are also available for web-based reading via Skillsoft’s Books24x7 ITPro collection)
• Statistical and Machine-Learning Data Mining: Techniques for Better Predictive Modeling and Analysis of Big Data, Second Edition – by Bruce Ratner, Auerbach Publications,2012 (544 pages)
• Social Network Mining, Analysis and Research Trends: Techniques and Applications - by I-Hsien Ting, Tzung-Pei Hong and Leon S.L. Wang (eds), IGI Global, 2012 (429 pages)
• Decision Management Systems: A Practical Guide to Using Business Rules and Predictive Analytics - by James Taylor , IBM Press, 2012 (316 pages)
• Data Mining: Practical Machine Learning Tools and Techniques, Third Edition - by Ian H. Witten, Eibe Frank and Mark A. Hall, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 2011 (665 pages)
• Data Mining Techniques: For Marketing, Sales, and Customer Relationship Management, Third Edition - by Gordon S. Linoff and Michael J.A. Berry, John Wiley & Sons, 2011 (888 pages)
A number of Web sites educate about Big Data. Many of those sites and training courses are provided by Big Data and cloud computing vendors such as EMC and Cloudera, but there is also an interesting community site called Big Data University. Big Data University is an “online educational site run by new and experienced Hadoop, Big Data and DB2 users who want to learn, contribute with course materials, or look for job opportunities. The site includes free and fee-based courses delivered by experienced professionals and teachers.” The site is currently in beta mode but shows a lot of promise.
If your firm has a need for Big Data expertise, now is the time to start working on a Big Data talent development plan. You should at least advertise your interest in Big Data skills - you might just get lucky and land one of the few available people. In parallel, you should also be identifying internal resources that you can train – either through university programs, vendor programs, or by taking advantage of some of the great books on the subject.
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