Canary in the Data Mine

I spent a couple of weeks last month  interviewing experts about the big data workforce—that mix of IT pros, statisticians, mathematicians, engineers and functional business experts who companies need to tame their burgeoning databases. The resulting story, Building Your Big Data Team, is posted at Data Informed, a new website focused on big data technology, applications and management. In my story, there’s some advice for IT and business leaders about education and training for data scientists.

Meanwhile, has posted my feature, Big Data in the Real World Isn’t So Easy, about the challenges facing companies that want to analyze massive amounts of data. CIOs I interviewed for that story also talked about how they were rethinking the way they staff their data and analytics teams. One big focus: deepen connections between data analysts in IT and business domain experts.

As always, when confronted with new technology, IT leaders are figuring out what to do. But what’s happening now is triage: recruit talent from other companies, send developers to learn new tools, identify employees who can deepen their mathematical, engineering or domain expertise on the job.

Today’s demand for data experts is only the beginning. Last week, the Conference Board’s Gad Levanon and Jessica Forde blogged about new Bureau of Labor Statistics Data predicting the fastest growing occupations in the next decade:  “The rate of increase in market research analysts, personal financial advisors, and financial analysts indicate the growing need for professionals who can use data to aid in decision making processes.”

I wonder if our education system can fill the pipeline fast enough.

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