The data analyst person of mystery is widely courted, and big data is becoming one of those buzzwords. You know the ones. According to Ramesh Dontha, everyone talks about big data, but few understand it. This causes any number of strange reactions, from those who pretend to get it for the IT street cred, to professional analysts disagreeing about the details of its definition.
If you’re looking to break into a career in IT, or switch up your focus, becoming an analyst and researching the role of big data could pay dividends pretty quickly.
Companies love to panic about Big Data
Being a data analyst (or ”data scientist” if you live in San Francisco and wear dapper hats) can be the gift that keeps on giving in an industry full of startups and new ventures. Tech startups very often reach a point where their traffic reaches a critical level, and they realize that they don’t have a data infrastructure. It’s a bit of a “wild west” option and might not be best if you’re new to the field, but there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of companies running about with their servers on fire shouting BIG DATA!
If you’ve got a Master’s or PhD, the career prospects are, well, sexy. But if you don’t have a degree specifically related to data science, you could still be in luck. According to recent studies, companies are citing employee integration as one of the greatest challenges when hiring data scientists.
“Four in ten (43%) companies report their lack of appropriate analytical skills as a key challenge but only one in five organizations has changed its approach to attracting and retaining analytics talent.”
Many are opting for in-house training programs, combined with hiring people who know their business first, but also have analytical minds that can be turned to data. Forbes notes that data analysis is a “team sport” which means there is more good news — many companies are opting to create upper level management positions to see that integration goes smoothly.
If you’re not excited about the volatility that comes with a startup, never fear. More established businesses are increasing adoption of big data strategies. The percentage of data analysts hired by startups fell from 29 percent to 14 percent between 2014 and 2015. This doesn’t seem to mean that startups are slowing down their hiring, rather that hiring is increasing across many industries.
An area of expertise highly valued
Big data is a sort of ephemeral concept with a definition and scope that’s hard to pin down. For people looking at careers in IT, this is great news. The fact that people can’t seem to agree on what big data actually is makes managers more likely to want to hire someone who can just sort the whole mess out for them. If you’re a good analyst, fantastic. If you’re a good storyteller, even better. Being able to present conclusions in an engaging way will make you a popular catch and will mean that your work has a wide variety of applications across the company.
Data analysts, marketing specialists who make use of consumer data, and developers who design tools to visualize or predict using analytics are examples of careers that are doing very well. These data specialists can make anywhere from $90,000 to $130,000 per year.
Marketers can’t get enough
Say “big data” to a marketing pro and watch the hunger in their eyes. After all, a vast amount of data is created by consumers. Initiatives like A/B testing and drawing conclusions from purchasing habits are power tools in the marketer’s kit. The more information you can help them leverage, the more they’ll love you.
Over 900,000 jobs were created last year by the “data driven marketing economy” and 44 percent of marketers have a data management platform, compared to 33 percent who want one but don’t have it yet. Marketers especially have multiple sources of data and are in need of tools to aggregate and analyze what they pull in.
Big Data is getting bigger
Prospects for big data and analytics are good. The sector is expected to grow, a lot, and quickly. The number of data sources is growing, and so are the ways they can be combined to create actionable reports.
On top of that, a growing number of organizations exist in a purely data-driven world, developing products and tools to make data analysis more efficient. If you want to live and breathe data, there are folks who do that day in, day out.
So, why is being a data analyst sexy? Well, no one really understands what you do, and that air of mystery is fueling the strange hype that has everyone talking big data. The career prospects are great. If your progress at one company stagnates, there’s likely to be another ready to snap you up. To the layman you might as well be a magician. And, of course, for those who do understand it, the need for competent analysts grows with each new way of accumulating data.