The Next Step: Staffing Your Big Data Vision
The old school executive who makes decisions on gut instinct alone is no longer just a cliché, it is now an archeological artifact of a bygone era. We all know that business leaders have to make decisions and validate their impact using evidence, supported by reliable data and insights. The age of Big Data, of course, means that as the amount and complexity of data increases, the potential for greatly improved reporting and analysis translates into better, more informed decisions that can be made more quickly and with more confidence than ever before. Data-rich organizations not only have access to historical data, which can be used to track performance and validate past decisions, but now they can also build predictive models to determine what’s next on the horizon. Increased processing power, high-performance Big Data technologies (e.g., Hadoop), and advanced analytics even make it possible to become prescriptive, and enable automated decision making in real time.
All of this Big Data potential has translated into bigger and more elaborate Big Data visions – Data thought leaders within organizations have the ear of core decision makers (if they aren’t in fact the same person, as in the most innovative organizations) and are demanding delivery on this potential from their IT and IM departments. And increased demand for solutions means increased demand for people to implement technologies and processes – people with the skills and experience to realize and deliver on the vision.
Trouble is, there aren’t enough skilled practitioners out there.
The supply of skilled, experienced resources is far outstripped by demand. McKinsey has found that, the gap is likely to be as high as 60% by 2018: for every 100 jobs requiring Big Data and Analytics skills sets, there are only 40-50 qualified candidates.* Business leaders have their HR partners feverishly hunting for people with critical data management and analytics skills. To be effective, data- and analytics-driven organizations need practitioners who can acquire, store and process multi-sourced and multi-structured data sets. These practitioners also need to be experienced with Big Data technologies such as Hadoop, and be able to analyze, build sophisticated models around, and visualize the data. Oh, and they need to be able to tell stories about the data in a way that is meaningful to decision makers, too.
Meeting this challenge can be daunting, but there are multiple approaches that can be leveraged, including:
- hiring experienced and skilled full-time resources
- hiring experienced resources on contract or via a consulting arrangement, and
- training resources in house and providing them with hands-on experience.
Each solution has unique pros and cons:
- Skilled contractors can be engaged to close short term skill gaps and move critical projects forward, but will likely not help to advance institutional knowledge and expertise.
- External, experienced full-time resources can bring new skills/knowledge and inject fresh thinking into the organization, but can prove difficult to retain if not supported by a strong engagement strategy.
- Training/re-training internal resources leverages and amplifies institutional knowledge, but getting to tangible outcomes can take significantly longer.
The ideal approach is a hybrid of these three; business priorities – speed, cost, and culture – should determine the right balance.
Firms like Adastra can be leveraged to take over Big Data and Analytics functions entirely, but most organizations strive to maintain more direct control over their data journey. In response to that need, Adastra offers Adastra Academy, a comprehensive and cost-effective way to retrain existing staff and give them the skills to accelerate your transformation.
Adastra Academy provides:
- Robust, up-to-date Big Data and Analytics training on the latest technologies
- Real world use cases and hands-on exercises, and
- A customizable experience to meet the unique needs of our clients and students.
Most importantly, Adastra Academy materials and classes are designed and delivered by seasoned practitioners – Architects, Developers and Data Scientists – who are actively engaged in the Big Data & Analytics space.
For anyone interested in bringing their organization solidly into the Big Data age, check out our current offerings at http://adastra.academy/. For those who want more detail on how Adastra Academy courses can be integrated into your big data and analytics transformation program, and customized to your precise needs, watch out for my next post: Building a Big Data Team.