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Preparing Yourself for the Analytics Job Tsunami

Originally published February 6, 2012

McKinsey Global Institute's report on big data predicts that by 2018, there will be a shortage of 1.5 million business analytics professionals/managers who can make data driven decisions, and that prediction is just for the United States.  In addition to McKinsey’s report,  technologists today are blogging about the “the worsening dearth of qualified talent in the analytics field” in articles such as Big Data Explosion Evident in Analytics Workshops.

This oncoming tsunami of positions requiring analytical skills presents a solid opportunity for business intelligence (BI) professionals. Are you ready for the vast opportunities it will bring? To be able to take advantage of an opportunity, one has to be prepared.  

But first, let’s start with clarifying what is involved in analytics. Is it just gathering data using software tool and creating dashboards and reports? Not really. Analytics goes well beyond data to fundamentally enable business decisions based on data. This involves working with stakeholders to understand the gaps in business, and using that as a guide to manipulate data, derive actionable insights and make recommendations.

Given that analytics is data++, it is indeed the data management, data warehousing and business intelligence (BI) professionals who are most well positioned to morph into more impactful analytics careers with a wider range of job choices. But like everything else, this transition needs preparation because the skills needed for analytics go beyond the current skills sets of most BI professional.

Best analytics is delivered when good technical skills are married to good soft skills. Most BI professionals can easily pick the technical skills of business analytics if well trained. The technical skills training should include not only frequently used data analysis methods like correlation analysis, trend analysis, profiling, and estimation, to name a few, but also the framework of how to bridge the gap from business to data. The soft skills training should include communication and presentation skills to effectively engage stakeholders including how to present information. Often these analyses can be done in Excel without the need for advanced statistical tools.

The McKinsey report on big data also predicts U. S. shortage of approximately 160,000 data scientists/advance analytics professionals. Note that this gap is 1/10th of the business analytics professional gap. But there are currently more options for data scientist training from universities such as North Carolina State University and Northwestern University, both of which offer Master’s programs in analytics. Stanford and many other universities offer professional development courses through their statistics and data mining department, targeted again at data scientist roles.

Historically there has not been any formal business analytics training offered, and most people have acquired their analytic skills on the job.  Even today there isn’t much in the marketplace, so how does one go about acquiring these skills?  One option developed and tested is Aryng’s Business and Predictive Analytics Training,  which marries years of practical business operations experience with technical data analysis techniques to deliver a short course to quickly ramp-up data-driven decision-making skills.  It provides all-encompassing training that can give any BI professional the skill and confidence needed to transition to an impactful analytics role.

Once you have the necessary analytics skills, the next step in the process is to find the right job, apply, interview and land it. If you are currently employed and have received the right training, there is nothing better than an internal job application. For external application, I recommend networking via LinkedIn groups, highlighting your newly acquired analytics skills using “business analytics” and “data analysis” tags. For job portals, LinkedIn Jobs, Craigslist, Indeed.com, Monster, icrunchdata and Dice are my top picks. So prep up and grab the opportunities this analytics job tsunami brings.

Author’s note: Use special coupon code “Feb-SPCL-TDWI-10” for 10% OFF Aryng's Business and Predictive Analytics Workshop, in San Francisco, February 22-24, 2012. Offer expires February 17, 2012.

Recent articles by Piyanka Jain, CEO of Aryng



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