The Big Data Dream Team: Building It, Managing It & Joining It

January 9th, 2015

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that nearly two-thirds of companies plan to invest in Big Data technology as they plot their upcoming business strategy. But high-tech equipment alone won’t extract the maximum value from an organization’s data. It also requires a team of professionals who offer both relevant IT, software and hardware expertise and a flair for problem solving and good old communications.

Winning the Talent Competition

It sounds a little like a Miss America pageant, but when it comes to recruiting your Big Data dream team, you really are looking for the “best of the best.” Except that you won’t have 50 or more entrants to choose from. Talent demand far outpaces supply and it’s a hard-fought competition between firms to attract and retain the best.

  • Companies are seeking Big Data pros who are analysts and also creative thinkers. It’s a tall order and many employers have come to realize they can’t go it alone. Their strategy includes partnering with specialized recruitment firms with the knowledge, contacts and business intelligence to assist.
  • Cast a different kind of talent net. There is a potential 35 percent talent shortfall for companies trying to find the employees with the right Big Data skills et in the United States. Colleges and universities have a way to go before they catch up when it comes to graduates. In the meantime, consider international recruiting, as well as creative partnerships with feeder schools that include funding research, offering apprenticeships, and loaning your senior team members as guest lecturers.
  • Train your current employees. Pre-existing talent generally poses less risk because they’ve already proven themselves. As an additional benefit, they have social capital. This synergy often separates a garden-variety team from an outstanding one. For instance, offer programs that help employees bridge their SQL experience to Big Data skills.

Managing Those Unicorns

You know that they’re hard to find. They may be even harder to manage … as it’s up to you to keep a finger on what your Big Data specialists are doing all day. Are they analyzing, measuring, interpreting and presenting the right information, the data that really matters to your business?

  • Become your company’s Chief Learning Officer. Staying on top of new technology has always been important, but Big Data has taken this objective up a huge notch. Your role is to identify related skills gaps on project teams, get executive buy-in for training and continuing education, and link the latter to team member performance reviews.
  • Develop your cross-functional team management skills. Managing the Big Data function will likely put you in contact with multiple departments and tech/business specialists. Learn their varied needs and how to address them from a “big picture” standpoint. Bring your change management skills!

So You Want to Join a Big Data Team

Maybe you’re just starting your career. Or perhaps you’re an experienced IT professional who wants to effectively grow with the times. The Big Data revolution has created a new job landscape.

  • Everything is about harvesting data. It’s no longer acceptable to make decisions that are not data driven. If you rely solely on gut instinct, or if data is available and you choose not to use it, you’re making a mistake.
  • Stretch your skill set. Though programming knowledge is a plus, you don’t need a computer science degree to become a data scientist. Likewise, familiarity with statistical software packages like R or SAS is helpful, but intense curiosity and the ability to effectively present results are just as important.

To learn more about your future in Big Data – whether it’s building, managing or becoming part of a future dream team – read our related posts or contact Select Group, Inc., today.

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