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Obama Gets the Big Data Bug

April 5, 2012 by admin


It’s not just the business world trying to get a slice of the big data pie, even the most powerful man in the world is looking into it. The Obama administration said recently that they would make $200 million in new research and development investments to gather insights from large and complex collections of digital data.The government also said it would look into expanding the number of workers who are able to go through the data to find scientific or business insights. Researchers will then be able to use that data to make important decisions, but to do that they’ll need skills way beyond an understanding of numbers. Going through a mountain of data requires data modelling and analytics skills, something that many employers are now looking for particularly in the technology, financial services and pharmaceutical industries.

Gartner analyst Merv Adrian says that large companies are “working on these problems at a furious pace, but there’s a huge skills gap. The data scientist is a creature in very short supply.”

An example used in the Wall St Journal blog looks at SAS which sells business analytics software and services. They hired 447 employees in 2011, growing by 7.6%. The company regularly faces the challenge of finding people with experience in big data and analytics.

As the government and other sectors including retail and media begin similar projects, demand for these skills is only going to rise. The result may be a talent shortage with up to 200,000 workers required in the United States alone over the next five years according to a report by Deloitte.

The National Science Foundation followed the Obama administration announcement by saying it would look at new approaches to education and workforce development, encouraging universities to develop data scientists.

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