By Shivan Bhargava, Group President – Skills and Career Group, NIIT Ltd
In recent times, we have been hearing a lot about Big Data and its vast business potential, especially for industries such as IT. For professionals too, the rise of the Big Data industry represents a mammoth opportunity, one that can lead to satisfying and successful careers.
However, what exactly is Big Data and what does it mean for people who aspire for a career in today’s technology driven work environment?
As the name itself suggests, Big Data describes the enormous amounts of information that is being generated within organizations. With the information explosion happening around us, companies are creating voluminous data, and are looking at ways in which they can manage it and use it in a meaningful way.
Large unstructured data sets, arising out of weblogs, social media, posts, sensors, images, e-mails and video files, are simply waiting to be harnessed and analyzed. Analytics, in fact, has emerged as the key to exploring and understanding Big Data and deriving critical insights from it.
It is these insights that can enable Big Data to deliver actionable business outcomes that organizations can work on. These can, for instance, guide companies to build on certain product features that are popular among their users, or cause others to withdraw products that are not capturing the imagination of their customers. At the same time, these insights can also be used by organizations to predict consumer behaviour, foresee their future needs and align their product and services strategies with these dynamic requirements.
Therefore, clearly, Big Data is going to become very big in the future.
Recent research by global market research firms such as IDC support this assumption. According to the analyst and research company, the Big Data and Analytics market will touch USD 125 billion in 2015. The Indian Big Data industry too is expected to grow rapidly—from USD 200 million in 2012 to USD 1 billion in 2015 at a CAGR of 83 percent! India’s leading chamber of commerce, NASSCOM has indicated that the demand for analytics professionals will grow to 2.5 lakhs by the end of this year.
While this is great news indeed, what is worrisome is the paucity of professionals that fit the job profiles that the industry requires. The demand for professionals well versed with Big Data and analytics far outstrips the supply. Today, there are just not enough people who can fuel the growth of this emerging industry.
Within Big Data too, there are specific areas that will need a large number of experts. IDC, for instance, is predicting that security will be a killer app in the Big Data realm and that Big Data Analytics tools that keep data secure —basically predict security threats, detect them and create deterrence and prevention programs — will flourish. To be able to use these tools, professionals will need to be trained in technologies such as machine learning, text mining and ontology modelling.
According to the research firm, analytics related to the Internet of Things (data generated through sensors, etc.) as well as image, video and audio will be other areas of high growth. Rich media analytics in particular, IDC says, is expected to triple in 2015.
It is becoming apparent that going forward, there will be a huge need for people who can support and drive the momentum of the Big Data and analytics industry, by making it their dream career destination.
Today, this sector needs professionals who blend the role of data scientists as well as engineers — people well-versed in areas like data analytics, data warehousing, data management, interpretation and statistical analytics.
The Big Data industry requires a range of very high end, specialized skills around data processing and tools such as MapReduce, Hadoop, Cloudera, IBM Big Insights, Hortonworks and MapR. Skills in data mining or machine learning—which basically means a thorough knowledge of technologies such as Mahout—are a must.
Professionals who have worked on statistical analysis software such as R, SPSS, SAS Weka and MATLAB are in an advantageous position. Ever-green programming skills in technologies such as Java, Scala, Ruby, and C++ and knowledge of relational databases such as MySQL, MS SQL Server, Oracle and DB2, will also hold them in good stead.
One is also hearing about how Big Data analytics jobs will require excellent communications skills. As organizations face challenges in understanding and embracing analytics, they will need experienced ‘storytellers’—people who can use data to tell meaningful stories that strike a chord with their target audience.
Professionals therefore, who are looking to build a career in the Big Data and analytics market, will need to equip themselves with these relevant abilities and expertise.
2015 is going to be the year for Big Data and analytics. The opportunity is huge and is beckoning professionals aspiring to be a part of the ‘next big thing’!