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Are you taking the right approach to big data staffing?

The big data and predictive analytics landscape continues to shift rapidly as old practices are phased out and new technologies enter the mainstream on a virtually constant basis.  As these changes continue to play out, business and IT managers face immense challenges when it comes to staffing their teams with the right people.  That is, finding people with the skills to solve today’s problems that can also adapt to the new future that lies ahead.

 

The Traditional IT Staffing Model

The current model assumes that business knowledge and technical knowledge are mutually exclusive qualities for the majority of employees.  Technical and managerial responsibilities are clearly demarcated and assigned to those with the respective skills.

 

Business analysts are those employees whose core competency lies in understanding the challenges and needs of the business itself.  While they are familiar with what technology can do, they are generally not sufficiently trained or interested in making the technology serve their purposes.  These are the people who might identify, for example, that the organization could improve if it found commonalities across customers that the company has lost over time. They aren’t, however, the people who can find those commonalities.

 

Developers, on the other hand, are super-strong technicians (hopefully) who don’t understand the business value of what they’re creating. They respond to requests from BAs and implement them in software.

 

Good architects understand both what the business needs and the technologies required to satisfy those needs.  They know where to get the data from, how to manage it and how the technology will play a role in making that data accessible and actionable for the business users. Further, while they may not do the work themselves, architects have the skills necessary to 1) direct developers in implementation and 2) ask BAs the right questions to make sure the finished software will meet the business need.

 

The future paradigm

In contrast to this model, the future sees the architect role taking a back seat as companies move away from custom designs running on local hardware toward packaged systems run and managed in the cloud. You needn’t, for example, architect a new CRM system if you’re starting with a packaged CRM system.

 

The International Institute for Analytics predicts that successful companies will take the necessary steps to break down the divide between technology and business teams.  They identify business acumen as a highly sought after quality in analytics professionals and believe that companies will do what is necessary to bring developers into the strategy fold.  Similarly, business analysts will need to know more about the technologies that will allow them to unlock strategic insights hidden in data.

 

The idea, as we have mentioned in previous posts, is to develop as many citizen data scientists as possible.

 

What does this mean for your staffing today?

 

Given these trends, here are our recommendations:

  • The base criteria for new business hires is increasing dramatically as data analysis becomes a more integral component of strategy.  You shouldn’t be satisfied with just Excel or Access skills.  Demand that entry-level employees be able to perform basic queries in SQL, and maybe even possess knowledge of vendor-specific BI systems. Alternatively, be prepared to train them in data access skills.
  • As the responsibilities of IT continue to shift over to business management, it will become increasingly impractical to maintain technology staff.   As a result, IT departments will have to strongly consider whether their best option is to hire or to contract talent to achieve near term objectives.  As we have noted before, it is highly likely that the IT department as we know it stands a strong chance of disappearing completely in the near future. Your staffing plans should comprehend this reality.

 


 

Is something lacking in your technology team?  Dataspace offers a variety of big data, analytic, and BI staffing solutions to help you realize the value of your data assets.  Unlike traditional tech recruiters, we know how to identify top data analysts, data architects and data scientists for our clients.  We work with some of the largest companies in the US, and many tell us that their success rate with Dataspace staff is far higher than from their other staffing vendors.

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