The big data market is growing at a staggering rate. Driven by big data applications and cloud-based services, the market is on pace to top $50 billion in 2017. Not surprisingly, demand for workers with big data analytics skills is also rapidly increasing, resulting in a significant uptick in the number of people looking to add these highly coveted skills to their résumés.
According to research firm Gartner, 4.4 million jobs will be created to support big data adoption by 2015, but only one-third of these positions will be filled. Echoing this sentiment, the McKinsey Global Institute predicts that the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills by 2018.
In response to this demand, many people and organizations are turning to online learning to close the big data skillset gap. With the availability of live, interactive courses delivered by analytics experts directly to the learner’s PC or mobile device, eLearning offers the flexibility and convenience that allow working professionals to fit learning and skill enhancement into their busy schedules. It also enables students to choose instructors without concern for geographic location.
At WizIQ, we are seeing strong demand for big data, Hadoop, and predictive analytics courses from a diverse set of learners:
- IT professionals who want to “up skill” their current technical skillset to take on new areas of work or shift their career focus. This includes JAVA and SQL developers who want to move to Apache Hadoop or Python development, as well as those interested in becoming data administrators to help build and maintain the massive data infrastructure required for these new applications.
- Business professionals looking to enhance their current analytics skillset to apply big data to their jobs. For example, sales, marketing, and research professionals are learning how to harvest data from their preferred systems, or learn new ones, so they can apply that insight to influencing consumer behavior and driving sales.
- Students and job seekers training to be “skill ready” and keep up with the increasingly data-influenced job market. Students, in particular, are attracted to the Hadoop ecosystem due to its relevance and also because it is a free, open-source development platform that can be deployed almost anywhere.
What to Look for in an Online Learning Solution
With so many online options available for big data learners, it’s important that learners choose the right one based on their individual needs. Here are a few tips to help you select the right online learning solution for your needs.
- Consider the advantages of live, interactive courses. Learners taking WizIQ data analytics courses prefer live, interactive courses to static, video-based courses. Most opt for video-based-only instruction when the live course offering does not fit with their schedule. Having a live expert who you can interact with in real-time boosts engagement with the course material and aids in problem solving, which is key for data learning.
- Look for expert instructors willing to help with specific projects. In the world of online data learning, all instructors are not created equal, with varying degrees of quality and expertise. Look for industry-leading instructors with many years of practical expertise, and ask whether the instructor is willing to provide special assistance on projects to make you industry- or job-ready.
- Check that the course offers advanced virtual classroom features. Virtual classrooms with advanced features create a seamless online learning experience. Screen-sharing capabilities, for example, enable learners to view the instructor’s desktop when working with real-time cases and results. Students can see the process the instructor uses to solve cases, and collaborate with the instructor and other students as the action occurs. Also, look for cluster access, which enables learners to develop and practice analytics programs on their own.
The emergence of online learning as a method of building and enhancing big data skills can help organizations close the data skillset gap that threatens to limit their ability to benefit from the insights and innovations that big data can provide. Thousands of working professionals are taking advantage of the flexibility of online learning to enhance their big data skills. This trend figures to continue into the future, fueled by an ever-increasing demand for “data-smart” employees who can leverage the mountains of data awaiting their mastery.
Harman Singh is the founder and CEO of WizIQ, a SaaS-based online education platform serving 3.7 million registered learners from more than 100 countries. Singh has a Master’s degree in Computer Science from North Carolina State University.
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