The search for the best employees, “The war for talent.” This slogan is also applicable to data analysts, data scientists and marketing database analysts. The number of vacancies for Big Data and Data Analytics is rising quickly. Many managers are slowly becoming aware of the possibilities in this sector. Ignoring these developments is at your own risk, but ‘just doing something’ is maybe a greater risk.
Decisive Facts has been an active player in the Big Data and Data Analytics sector from the beginning. In line with our tradition of analysis, we have analyzed the growing number of data-analysts-vacancies. In this research we investigated 70 relevant vacancies in the Netherlands, among those open on January 31, 2015.
The desired combination of hard skills, soft skills and work- experience is not very realistic
The overall image of the analyzed vacancies is that the future employees have to have a lot of capabilities; work with databases, formulating their demands and wishes, perform every possible analysis and review this effectively, and finally they have to be able to implement these results into the business process. This is not very realistic in our opinion. We are pleased to show you why.
The desired hard skills consist mostly of SQL and analytics packages
Figure 1 shows in what frequency a specific “hard skill” (like SQL, SPSS or Excel-knowledge) is asked for. Clustered by the type of knowledge, the vacancies ask for:
- Only SQL-knowledge (37%)
- Only analytics software (18%)
- A combination of SQL-knowledge and analytics software (31%)
- Neither SQL-knowledge, nor analytics software (14%)
The large percentages (68%) vacancies that asks for database knowledge shows that companies are especially looking for people who can process the data, and pay less attention to the analytic skills which have to be performed on the data. This leads to the conclusion that managers do not have a clear image of Big Data and Data analytics.
Communicative team players who can think out-of-the-box
Besides the more obvious skills like analytics knowledge there are vacancies asking for skills and attitudes which you would, in general, not expect for IT-related occupations.
Almost all vacancies explicitly ask for employees that have good communicative skills and are team players, who have very developed advising and presentation skills and, to top it all, they have to be able to think out of the box.
An overview of the soft skills that are most asked for can be seen in the word cloud.
Especially job opportunities for people in their mid- or end-twenties
37% of all vacancies do not explicitly ask for a particular level of experience: this is in line with a relatively new sector. From this fact we can conclude that a lot of companies are still searching for answers and do not have a good defined image of who or what is needed.
Only 1% of the vacancies asks for experienced employees (more than 7 years of experience). From this we can conclude that managers do not see analytics and big data as an independent sector but as something that has to be placed under their supervision.
There is a high demand for people with little experience: there is almost no difference between the capabilities specified for juniors with 0-3 years of experience and mid-level employees with 3-7 years of experience. Database experience and experience with analytics packages are most sought after in this group. The only difference is that the number of skills expected of a mid-level employee is higher.
The category of vacancies for which a specific number of years of experience has not been asked is far more diverse, and can involve skill sets like experience with SAP, Hadoop, or Java.
One data analyst does not make a summer
Who is a data analyst? A growing number of companies and managers acknowledge that Big Data and Data Analytics are current subjects that have to be explored. It is noteworthy that the managers who publish these vacancies struggle with understanding what Big Data can mean for them, and what a data-analyst can do for them.
Do we have a realistic image of data analysts? The image that appears is that of a five-legged sheep. Our experience is that someone who has a particular feeling for data does not usually have very excellent communication skills, and vice versa. That is why a team of complementary specialists is more effective than one employee.
What is needed in a Data Analytics project? A successful big data solution contains at least the following aspects:
- A precise problem analysis, for which business knowledge is required.
- Reliable and mutually comparable data. A continuous process for saving data from inside an organization is essential. Therefore knowledge of different processes is crucial.
- Finding the right analysis methods which correspond to the capabilities of an organization.
- Reports and control mechanisms that are understood by the employees.
- A data driven culture. This requires training and coaching of (older) managers.
A successful implementation of these steps requires a team with different, and overlapping, expertise areas. This kind of analytic-team is not (yet) affordable for most companies, but the decision of many organizations nowadays to place data-analysts into already existing departments seems to be a solution which neither the company nor the analysts can profit from.