Here’s why Big Data Analytics is the next BIG thing

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Big Data Analytics is taking the technology world by storm. A look at what makes it a viable career option.

During the “dot-com boom” of the 90s, the rise of the Internet had a profound effect on every industry. People who believed that industrial sector was the core of modernization, woke up to the untapped potential of the “dot-com revolution”. Consequently, new companies were founded based on IT, people became “dotcom millionaires” and the boom spiked upwards, though it did bust later on.

Close to two decades later, Big Data Analytics is treading on the same path. For a concept that has been in existence for close to a decade, only the last few years have sparked a turnaround in its adoption. So much so that, companies have added a new but still functionally unclear portfolio, called the Chief Data Officer. But unlike the “dot-com” boom which followed a “boom-bust” cycle, big data analytics has a solid foundation. Here’s why:

What is Big Data anyway?

Companies have been storing information for decades now. According to statistics – Facebook stores, accesses and analyzes 30+ Petabytes of user generated data; Twitter has 465 million accounts and sees about 175 million tweets every day; Walmart oversees more than a million customer transactions every hour and its databases contain more than 2.5 petabytes of data; Google processes about 20 petabytes of data in a day. Yes, you read that right, in a day. There is an explosion of information at this juncture and the storage capacities have proportionately increased. But what do we do with all this humongous data?

What if we could study the recorded data by applying a certain set of algorithms, creatively building business models and ultimately derive a much needed customer behavior pattern? What if we could study the data to create methods that reduce expenditure by a significant percentage?

This is exactly what big data analytics does. By conventional logic, the companies should be embracing this concept with wide open arms by now. And they are.

The Supply-Demand inequality

According to Gartner, an information technology research and advisory firm, in the United States alone, there will be a dearth of 1.9 million data analytics professionals. Considering the case of India, which is the outsourcing hub of the subcontinent, the number is expected to be all but larger. According to the findings at Big Data and Analytics Summit 2014, about 2 lakh data scientists will be required in the next few years.

Coaching institutes have already sprung up at certain places who train students on Analytics and make them “job-ready”. Likewise, companies are also providing in-house training to their recruits on job specific requirements, primarily because there is a scarcity of skilled talent in this field. This makes it a high paying job.

Recent trends have shown that a growing number of students from the IITs are gravitating towards big data analytics related jobs during placements. The main reasons being the significantly higher pay scales and the scope for the future. It has been reported that the pay hike is 50 % higher than other IT jobs.

Harvard Business Review recently declared “data scientist” as the “Sexiest Job of the 21st century”, with satisfactory explanations of course. Stagnation in software development prospects, fierce competition among market players and an explosion in data have contributed in making analysts the most sought after professionals. With almost every other technology expert forecasting a spike in hiring numbers, the future certainly looks promising.

What it means to you

Are you a computer science student? No? No worries. Luckily, analytics is more of a thinking job than a programming related one. Though a little bit of programming knowledge wouldn’t hurt, companies primarily need professionals who are creative and inquisitive in nature. Professionals who can look at random data sets and build models, which has little to do with programming expertise. There are softwares available to do the coding part of processing data sets, hence the primary requirement is creativity and the ability to effectively use the resources at disposal.

As an evidence to this theory, companies have reportedly hired musicians and physicists in their analytics teams. Musicians, as they work with the combination of different notes and physicists, as they provide a scientific approach to problem solving, were hired to be a part of the analytics team. It just shows that no matter what your field of study, analytics has a place for you, albeit with a little bit of training.

Apparently, many universities in the US have initiated Master’s degree programs on data sciences. Though this looks like an attempt to cash in on the hype surrounding big data analytics, it echoes the existing sentiment.

So, if data analytics has caught your imagination and provided your skill sets match, it isn’t a bad career option at all. An exciting future beckons!

Image credits: commons.wikimedia.org – Camelia.boban

About author : Ramprasad Bommaganty is a 4th year B.Tech (Computer Science) student of Malla Reddy Institute of Technology.

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