Demand for big data professionals has risen rapidly over the past two years as more enterprises rush to find analysts and programmers capable of turning mountains of information into competitive advantages.
But as the market for big data analytics job skills has grown, it also has deepened as enterprises seek candidates for increasingly specialized data-related positions.
“A year or two ago, the phrase ‘big data’ was becoming popular – along with business intelligence – but it was kind of all things to all people,” says Laura Kelly, a vice president with Houston-based IT staffing services provider Modis.
Now, Kelly says, Modis clients are looking for people to fill more defined jobs related to big data. “We’re seeing a lot of ETL (extract, transform, load) development positions, we’re seeing a lot of data architect positions, and a lot of true BI (business intelligence) positions,” Kelly says.
Indeed, a search of Modis’s job board listings shows nearly 700 BI positions, nearly 300 ETL positions and more than 100 data architect jobs.
Greta Roberts, chief executive of Talent Analytics, a company that uses analytics to quantify talent traits and predict performance in employees and potential hires, says specificity is becoming the norm among enterprises seeking data analytical talent.
“The industry realizes the label of data scientist, while sexy, is too broad to be very practical,” Roberts says. “There are categories and sub-categories that come under the data scientist label that help define specific roles, responsibilities and tasks.”
Talent Analytics late last year released a complex profile of data analysis pros (the 2012 Analytics Professional Study) which Roberts says shows that “even the label ‘analytics professional’ doesn’t do justice to the breadth of work being accomplished by today’s analytics professionals doing different roles.”
“People are getting more descriptive in job titles – meaning, new titles are beginning to reflect the tasks the analytics pros actually perform,” she says. “As an example, an analytics professional who does primarily data preparation and analysis might be called a ‘data preparation analyst,’ while someone who primarily does management, administration and presentation of results might be an ‘analytics manager.’ And someone who primarily does programming might be called an ‘analytics programmer.”
Talent marketplace data provider Wanted Analytics last month reported that online-posted jobs for data analysis skills hit an all-time high of 47,500 in October 2012. Among the big-data-related job titles most frequently advertised by employers were data analyst, business analyst, software engineer and financial analyst.
This indicates another trend, that of business units creating positions for their own in-house analysts, as opposed to the analytics pros operating strictly out of IT.
“They might be in a business group, they might be in marketing, or they might be in IT,” says Modis’s Kelly. “It’s becoming more formalized. It’s no longer, ‘Oh wow, how cool.’ It’s ‘we have an entire department dedicated to data analytics.’”
Despite the increasing specialization of big data analytics jobs, Kelly notes that “there’s overlap within all of those different titles.”
And Roberts says there still is a place for “analytics generalists” – which she describes as “someone who does a little bit of everything.”
“I think it will take the industry a little time to sort out which sub-labels define more closely the real tasks being accomplished in each sub-role,” she says.
Whatever roles and labels evolve, there’s one that Kelly is fairly certain she won’t be hearing about.
“I’ve never had a client call and ask for a big data developer,” she says. “I don’t know who coined the term, but it’s not sticking.”
Home page image by Muhammad Rafizeldi via Wikipedia.