Big Data Scientist / Data Specialist is the hot new career in IT. Big Data could add £216bn to the UK economy by 2017, as well as create 58,000 new jobs according to a report released in April 2012 by The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) claimed that .
Big data is a broad term for data sets that are too large and complex to manage with conventional database tools. Not long ago computer programmers wrote their code with the cost of memory firmly at the forefront of their minds and data storage was expensive. Now we have the Cloud which gives affordable and easily available data storage and processing power online.
Having this data presents opportunities for business if they can identify growth or savings opportunities. They can even sell their data. According to IBM big data spans four dimensions: Volume, Velocity, Variety, and Veracity. The last one is the most challenging. 1 in 3 business leaders don’t trust the information they use to make decisions. Establishing trust in big data presents a huge challenge as the variety and number of sources grows.
Here are some examples of how big data is used:
(Source: New Scientist Magazine 27th April 2013)
- There was a 35 minute power outage at this years Superbowl which is the climax of the US footabll season. It has an audience of 100 million and advertisers pay $4 million for a 30 second airtime advertising slot. A big data company called Datashift was giving feedback to the advertisers in real time on how the ads were perceived by extracting information from twitter feeds. The biscuit maker Oreo put an new ad together on the hoof which simply said “Power Outage? No Problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” Oreo’s quick action was actually more successful thant their carefully planned advert. The message was retweeted 14,000 times and increased their Twitter following by 14%.
- Through store loyalty cards companies can send tailored offers to people depending on what the data says is happening in their lives. In the US a man complained to a company called Target because they sent his teenage daughter vouchers for baby related products and he felt this was inappropriate. It transpired that his daughter was pregnant.
- A casino thought that the best revenue generators were the ‘hig-rollers’ but data analysis showed that elderly slot players contributed more to their bottom line.
Big Data Employment Opportunities
Data scientist jobs will mention requirements such as experience in working with large data sets and working with distributed computing tools, such as Map/Reduce, Hadoop, Hive, Mahout, Pig, R, Matlab, NumPy SAS Sql and NoSQL. Most big data systems have to be built on top of Hadoop or some distributed environment. There are very few packaged applications that run on top of Hadoop. Right now the technical jobs outnumber the analysis jobs.
IQWorkforce, a US analytics company, has this to say about employing big data specialists “There are lots of foreign nationals working in big data. If you want to recruit a data scientist, an engineer or a distributed system architect you should be prepared to sponsor a work visa.” Furthermore they say ” If you want a 2-3 year data scientist or a 2-3 year statistical modeler you can either catch lightening in a bottle or sponsor a visa.” It is a similar situation here in the UK. Demand for UK big data specialists will increase by 92% over the next five years and we are already experiencing a skills shortage axccording to SAS, a leading company in analytics software and services.
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