Big Data Jobs a 'Hyper Growth Niche'

Susan Hall

Big Data leads in "hyper growth niche" categories, according to the Big Data Jobs Index released by job site icrunchdata.

The site says there are roughly 600,000 jobs in the market. It breaks that down as 220,767 positions in analytics, 127,329 classified only as “Big Data,” 82,444 with titles of data scientist and something similar, 78,000 in software development, 60,430 in statistics, and 28,900 listed simply as business intelligence.

Recruiters I’ve talked to say there’s been more hype than actual hiring action for Big Data positions, but Information Management quotes icrunchdata spokesman Todd Nevins saying:

“The hype is through the roof, but I'm not sure when it will turn. We aren't seeing any signs of a slowdown on our side from companies recruiting big data talent due to the massive opportunities in their data. We don't expect to see any pull back in the foreseeable future as long as the ROI continues to exceed the expense of finding, recruiting and retaining big data talent.”

And that expense can be considerable.

Jill Dyché, vice president of Thought Leadership at SAS, however, recently told my colleague Loraine Lawson that it’s unrealistic to expect to find all the Big Data skills in a single person. She said:

“What we're finding on the ground with our customers is the expectations for that individual role are so lofty, it's just become completely impractical to expect any one person to understand the data, understand the data sources, understand the data integration rules, understand the business rules, understand the meta data, understand the data access, understand data privacy, understand data security, understand how to cleanse the data, et cetera, et cetera.

It's a fun thing to talk about, but on the ground, the specifics of the role are very unclear. In the worst-case scenario, we're setting people up for failure.”

Meanwhile, a piece at Computerworld finds a niche job even within this "hyper growth niche" – the data visualizer. It, too, quotes icrunchdata numbers, citing 12 percent growth in the past six months in mentions of data visualization in job descriptions. According to the article:

The function is not yet well defined, and it's rare to see it as a job title in and of itself, IT career watchers say. Rather, it's a skill set that more companies are demanding as part of other roles, notably business intelligence and analytics jobs.

These folks aren’t just graphic artists who decide whether to present data as a bar chart or word cloud. They also don’t necessarily even focus on answering questions, according to the article. It quotes Gregory Lewandowski, manager of analytics at Cisco, saying:

"Part of it is about allowing our leaders to be able to articulate questions that they never had before because they are seeing things in a way that they've never seen them before. If we're successful, people can see the threads in a way that allows them to ask better questions, which leads to better strategy and ultimately to a better company."

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