Bridging the gap between talent and big data analytics

his article, written by Crayon co-founder Srikant Sastri, appeared on InformationWeek.

Big Data is a wonderful idea; it can revolutionize the way organisations work and solve problems. In order to turn this phenomenal idea into a reality, organizations need to gear up to face some extreme challenges. One such challenge, is filling the talent gap — the demand for people with deep analytical skills and with the ability to use insights to make effective decisions in real time.According to the Business Standard, the Indian analytics market is expected to grow to $1.15 billion and industry bodies predict a five-fold growth in the number of big data professionals by 2015. For many organisations especially in India, where big data is booming at an exponential rate, finding the right talent and knowing what skills to look for continues to be a major roadblock.

Students graduating from many Indian colleges and Indian universities do not possess several of the advanced skill sets that are required by big data workers; such as, predictive analysis skills, working with advanced business intelligence tools and data integration skills. This is due to the fact that big data subject majors are few and far between, and are not taught at most Indian universities. Moreover the existing, experienced big data professionals do not have adequate expertise to train fresh talent, and hence most entry level professionals need to learn with experience.

The exponential increase in wages for talented big data professionals is another challenge faced by big data companies. According to the Jigsawacademy annual salary report 2014 for analytic professionals, the average salary of entry level big data professionals has increased 27 percent since 2013, from 5.2 laksh to Rs 6.6 lakhs per annum. Typically, there is also a 250 percent increase in salary while moving from an entry level analyst to the position of a manager. This reaffirms the need to find a solution to the talent shortage in the big data analytics field.

Keeping in mind the above challenges, in-house HR professionals in organizations that recruit big data analysts will face a two-fold problem -identifying the right candidates with hybrid skill sets and staying within the budget.

Recruiters have to think out of the box while looking for big data talent. Expanding their search outside the regular computer science related streams, to those fields where mathematical and business skills are heavily utilised is one way to overcome the scarcity. Few innovative start-ups have taken the internship route to identify the best suitable talent for this niche. These start-ups have developed internship programmes to acquire, identify and nurture the right talent from top Indian colleges. The accepted interns are offered real time opportunities to show case their talent and once they prove themselves, will be offered permanent positions.

This has helped start-ups grow their local talent base of recruits, to include candidates with the right credentials for the job. Companies have also replaced the old fashioned hiring practices with more real life programming tests and on the job analytical tests in their screening process.

While big data is changing the game for recruiters, big data organisations themselves, need to face up to the challenges of hiring the right people for the right seats.

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