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Calling all data analysts

April 02, 2013

Data analyst is currently one of the most important IT careers going, thanks in large part to the growing importance of big data. As more businesses realize that certain information that used to be unattainable can help them make more sound decisions, the need for skilled analysts will increase accordingly. Jerry Oglesby, senior director of global academic and certification programs at analytics specialist SAS, believes that greater IT training is required to support trends involving unstructured data, according to a recent Forbes report.

"Everywhere we go we are asked where companies can find candidates with analytical and software skills," Oglesby said, according to Forbes. "While we are making it easier for more people to use the analytical tools, the goal is not to eliminate the need for trained analysts. Companies just don't have enough of them."

Oglesby added that SAS is experiencing growing demand for supply chain operators who are skilled in unstructured data, text mining and social data. It is clear that more effort must be expended regarding the training of the next generation of professionals or businesses will continue to struggle to find relevant talent.

"The universities have been a little slow to move in the unstructured direction, although now I am beginning to see they are adding courses that cover unstructured data in their programs," Oglesby said, according to the news source.

To address this potential roadblock, SAS partnered with North Carolina State University and developed an analytics program more than seven years ago. In 2013, its sixth graduating class will earn degrees in this field. Oglesby said that demand for these professionals will exist throughout several industries, including fraud detection, government and healthcare.

Big data phenomenon showing no signs of slowing
A report by Microsoft highlighted just how much data the world is producing, and it is a massive amount. According to Eron Kelly, general manager of product marketing at Microsoft SQL Server, the world's technology users will create more data in the next five years than in the previous 5,000 years combined. Much of this information is unstructured in nature and includes text, images and email, among other formats.

Looking ahead, firms that can gain insight from their information can make more sound decisions, boost efficiency and advance corporate agendas more effectively, Kelly said.

"That's not only about making more money in the near term, that's survival. In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, you have to do everything you can to stay ahead of the competition," Kelly said.

Kelly also said that government agencies, healthcare organizations and businesses throughout most industries will find it difficult to keep pace with others if they cannot leverage their information effectively.

Data analysts will undoubtedly make up one of the most important IT positions in the near future, as organizations try to take full advantage of their information. According to Oglesby, these employees should posses strong communication skills. Job candidates who have undergone the proper IT training and have such capabilities can make a contribution immediately.

Businesses that want to analyze their data to make more sound decisions but are struggling to find relevant talent can enlist the help of IT staffing experts to find these highly sought-after professionals. While other firms are falling behind due to a lack of available workers, companies that take advantage of staffing services can set themselves up for the short term and long haul by getting ahead of the game now. 

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