You've probably heard the statistic that for every minute of the day we upload an hours' worth of video to Youtube, but did you also know that we create 2.5 quintrillion bytes of data? According to IBM "90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.”!
Big Data can be loosely defined as the ability to gather, analyse, interpret and most importantly act on large volumes of data to identify and solve problems. The financial industry uses it to detect credit card fraud; hospitals use it to prevent illness; airlines use it to fill seats; and, Amazon uses it to tell you what you might like to read next.
Many political commentators even claim that big data made a major contribution to Obama’s election victory:
“The data analytics team, led by 30-year-old Dan Wagner, is credited with producing Obama's surprising 5 million-vote margin of victory.”
Ultimately big data enables companies and organisations to better understand their markets and the needs of their customers in ways unimaginable just a few years ago.
Wikipedia's current definition states that big data can also “spot business trends, determine quality of research, prevent diseases, link legal citations, combat crime, and determine real-time roadway traffic conditions.”
The job of managing big Data
Research from Workcircle confirms 4,900 “big data” jobs on their website, with approximately 770 in UK confirming that big data means more jobs.
Advice to those entering university to pick the right subject to take advantage of the graduate opportunities created by big data.
In the IT sphere, as in so many walks of life, paper qualifications are not always the best way to assess an individual's suitability for a job; he or she may have invaluable experience that clearly outstrips what a person can learn at university. So IT companies have started using big data to recruit new talent, to help them use big data: a kind of meta-recruitment system. So, if you have a creative IT brain, but not much in the way of conventional proof, big data could be big news for your career.
And in fact it's not just commercial jobs that are out there - there's a science angle too: wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_data#Big_science
The challenge big data poses to organisations
The tools & technologies to implement & analyse big data are still developing. Things like Hadoop are new technologies appearing in job specifications that weren’t around a few years ago. There's no doubt that the tools and technologies will continue to advance quickly and change what we're used to from both job seekers and recruiters points of view.
The problem will be finding and hiring people with the skills to use the new tools, and how to identify candidates who can solve the new issues Big Data raises. Who will own the Big Data projects that span the entire organisation? There's a career option right there!
There's no doubt that the organisational challenges of managing big data along with the regulatory and privacy issues involved present both a challenge and an opportunity, but with initiatives like Open Gov heralding this new era there's no doubt that change is on it's way.
Simon Appleton is a writer and is CEO at Workcircle.