Business analytics seeing huge demand, outpacing talent

Data helps businesses get real-time feedback but there may not be enough data experts to meet demand

Technology trends and news by Krystal Peak
December 5, 2011
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Businesses have better access to data and analytics than ever before and many of them are taking advantage of the benefits that these tools can offer.

A survey out Monday, by the EMC Corporation, is showing that nearly one-third of companies across the globe are able to use new data to aid in business decisions and reveal customer insight.
EMC Corporation (NYSE: EMC) reached across the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, India and China to see how companies are engaging with data tools such as mobile sensors, social media, surveillance, medical imaging and smart grids.

In fact, at this point business demand for data scientists have outpaced the supply of talent to provide insights.

The survey showed that one-third of respondents were confident in their company's ability to make good business choices based on new data source. Barriers that were identified that kept companies from using that troves of data available for the benefit of their company were lack of skills or training (32%), budget (32%) and lack of tools or technology to utilize the data (10%.)

New technology is seen as a great method of gaining insight from consumers and 38% of business analysts said that companies should continue to use data to learn more about their customers.

When I spoke with DataSift's Twitter anaytic tool CEO, Rob Bailey, about the importance of getting consumer insight from the expansive channels on the Internet, he explained the many ways businesses can leverage the online data shared.

"Business, especially global ones, are discusses and analyzed all the time everyday and it is a matter of capturing and putting it to use,' said Bailey. "Businesses and marketing companys are often throwing money at researchers when they could really just pull the unsolicitied data that exists on sharing tools like Twitter."

And sometime unsolicited data is what gives the most robust and diverse responses to questions like, "How is our latest ad campaign doing?" or "What demographic likes our mobile product the most?" By going to data services that pull information from blogs, social networks and other outlet, companies can measure the use, sentiment and experiences that its clients are having around the globe -- and often in real time.

"We live in a data-driven world. Increasingly, the efficient operation of organizations across sectors relies on the effective use of vast amounts of data. Making sense of big data is a combination of organizations having the tools, skills and more importantly, the mindset to see data as the new "oil" fueling a company," Andreas Weigend, head of the Social Data Lab at Stanford, former chief scientist at said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the technology has evolved faster than the workforce skills to make sense of it and organizations across sectors must adapt to this new reality or perish."

Another study released on Monday, by ClickThrough, shows that the most popular social media site and tool used by business marketers to publicize campaigns and generate leads is Twitter.

This study found that of the surveyed marketers, 91% said that they used Twitter. However, despite this just 15 per cent responded that the micro-blogging site generated marketing leads for them.

LinkedIn also ranked as an effective social media site for generating leads – with 32% touting that the professional networking site was their most successful social media tool for generating leads.

But with all the demand for data aggregation and analysis, the talent capable of acquiring and organizing this data has dried up. Currently, 65% of data science professionals are concerned that the demand for data talent will outpace the supply over the next 5 years. And 83% of respondents believe that new tools and emerging technology will increase the need for data scientists.

Because of the information accessible and the countless silos that contain the data, the current data scientists require significantly greater business and technical skills than those in the past. 

With more companies moving into business-driven data such as the recently launched DataSift, and other young companies like Klout, Facebook API, and Fathom Analytics, each company is competing for the same talent and leading to some serious data compeition, similar to the fight for software engineers and app designers that leads to the offering of great perks and earlier and earlier recruiting at top school campuses.

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