EMC Survey: Lack of Big Data Talent Presents Missed Opportunities

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It's no surprise that companies foresee a talent shortage for data scientists at the same time they're being overwhelmed in their data. A new survey by storage vendor EMC, though, finds that only a third of data scientists themselves believe their companies are able to make business decisions that would help them gain competitive advantage, reveal customer insights or otherwise effectively use the data.


Among the results of the international survey of 500 people in data science or related professions:

  • 65 foresee a talent shortage in the next five years, with new college graduates seen as the primary mode for filling these roles.
  • Most commonly cited barriers to data science adoption include: Lack of skills or training (32 percent), budget/resources (32 percent), the wrong organizational structure (14 percent) and lack of tools/technology (10 percent).
  • 83 percent believe that new tools and emerging technology will increase the need for data scientists.
  • Only 12 percent of business intelligence professionals and 22 percent of data scientists strongly believe employees have the access to run experiments on data, which limits the ability to test and validate ideas and to innovate based on the data, thus its approach to innovation.


In a blog post, EMC's Chuck Hollis, VP-global marketing CTO, refers to data scientists as the "rock stars" of the future. He says they're not your typical BI analyst: They're more likely to hold advanced degrees, with background in the sciences (not business), they're more likely to interact with data in more ways and with different tools. They're more likely to be "data experimenters" as opposed to doing strictly analysis.


In citing barriers, combined, nearly a third marked the "wrong organizational structure" and "insufficient executive support," which Hollis takes to mean companies aren't organized for success. And they said they preferred to work in smaller settings, a factor Hollis sees as knocks on massive companies' structure, isolation and inflexibility. This, he says, will be the real issue for big companies:

How do you create a smaller, well-resourced setting in a much larger environment that will attract the key talent you'll need?

In conjunction with release of the survey, EMC has added a training and certification in data science and Big Data analytics, using its "open curriculum," meaning it's vendor neutral.