6 essential skills for a role in Big Data

Businesses on the hunt for top Big Data professionals
In recent years, many organisations have invested in Big Data, recognising that turning raw data into valuable insights can help to set them apart from the competition. To achieve this, employers must engage with the right professionals, who can turn this data into business gold.

It’s therefore hardly surprising that Big Data professionals are highly sought after. So much so, that our latest Tech Cities report findings reveal a 78% growth in demand over the last 12 months alone.

Big Data embraces a broad range of activities. But it’s important to remember that it’s more than just ‘a lot of data’. It’s about the meaning and value that can be extracted from the data. Artificial Intelligence (AI), and machine learning in particular, also has a role to play.

The key to all of this is finding the talent with the right skills to turn this data into power. We’ve listed some of the essential skills to have for a Big Data role:

1. Learn how to programme

A key foundation for Big Data is learning programming languages. Big Data involves handling large volumes of unstructured data which come from various sources. Having the ability to code, analyse and customise large datasets to draw relevant insights is a crucial component. Typical programming languages which are in demand for Big Data include: R, Matlab and SAS.

It may also be worth learning some of the basic languages, such as C, C++, Python and Java. Whilst it’s not important to learn every programming language, starting with the basics will be useful to help you get started and pick up other languages easily.

2. Data analysis and interpretation

Being able to decipher data patterns and sequences and draw conclusions from them is a vital skill to have to remain in demand and competitive. As a Big Data professional, you will be required to give your organisation valuable insight about their customers as well as their own business performance, helping them to gain a competitive advantage.

3. Creativity and problem solving

The need for solving problems will vary depending on what Big Data experts are working on. Whether it’s related to the systems, data or processes, being able to identify an issue, think outside the box, find a possible solution and implement it is a necessity. When so much of the business world relies on technology and information, any issue could have a significant impact on the organisation. For example, with the need to drive significant change to ensure compliance with GDPR, Big Data professionals must deal with handling large customer datasets accordingly to avoid any fines and reputational damage.

4. Business understanding

Being a Big Data professional isn’t only about data and understanding technology. A good understanding of the organisation you’re working in, their goals, objectives and processes is important. This will enable you to identify opportunities, communicate them to the relevant stakeholders and influence key decisions, ensuring the business is heading in the right direction to achieve their objectives.

5. Understand multiple technologies

The broader your understanding and skills in a range of technologies – from the most basic, Microsoft, Excel and SQL, to the more sophisticated such as Matlab, SAS and Congos – the better your prospect of succeeding in your career and being in demand.

Big Data means different things to different organisations. Many of them want to make use of Big Data and want to have the best qualified talent with the latest skills. However, the technologies that you will be working on will vary depending on the organisation. Therefore, the broader your general Big Data knowledge the easier you can adapt to match with their requirements.

6. Continuous learning

Finally, no matter how much you’ve mastered your Big Data skills and knowledge, to remain employable for the long-term, it is less about what you already know and more about your learnability. As technology and Big Data tools and requirements continue to advance at pace, it’s essential to continue learning and developing your skills to remain flexible and adaptable to any future changes and stay ahead in your career.

Looking for Big Data jobs? Find out more here.

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