Filling the big data talent gap

Data scientists were lauded at last month's EMC World for the work they do with big data. Caroline Donnelly finds out if this is a talent pool IT departments are investing in.

Transformation was the theme of last week's EMC World conference in Las Vegas, where 13,000 partners and customers were treated to discussions about how cloud and big data are changing the way we work and use IT.

The effect these technology trends are having on enterprise IT departments was a regular topic of conversation, with several EMC executives waxing lyrical about how big data, in particular, is creating demand for data scientists in the workplace.

Building out that skill set is going to be critical and will define how well those companies compete in the market.

Sam Grocott, vice president of marketing for EMC's Isilon storage division, said any business that wants to derive value from their data should invest in a data scientist.

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"Organisations make huge investments in infrastructure to store their data...if you're going to spend money on storing this information, it makes sense to leverage those large assets," he told IT Pro.

"You need a new breed of IT administrator, which is the concept behind data scientists. Building out that skill set is going to be critical and will define how well those companies compete in the market."

The members of this "new breed" tend to have a background in mathematics, statistics or computer science, explained Howard Elias, chief operating officer of EMC's information infrastructure and cloud services division.

With the help of big data analytics tools, like Greenplum and Hadoop, they can use their knowledge to track patterns in the information their companies create and apply them in a business context.

"What we have found from talking to our customers is that there is a gap that needs to be filled between the business and the art of the possible [with] the technology," he told attendees.

"If you are on the business side, you will know what your aspirations are, but you are unlikely to be an expert in the technology. The data scientist is designed to close that gap."

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