GDPR is here – now what?

Planning for Organisational Change in time for GDPR
There are just a few hours to go until we reach a major Big Data landmark: the enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Significant investment has been made in Big Data over the last few years, as organisations worldwide prepare themselves and pursue GDPR compliance. This was highlighted in our latest Tech Cities Job Watch report, which identified a 78% increase in demand for Big Data professionals over the last year. But now that the GDPR is here – what’s next for Big Data?

When weak signals can be detected in large, dynamic datasets, Big Data can be an incredibly powerful tool. For example, by analysing the population’s search engine habits, the outbreak of a virulent type of flu can be detected long before it becomes a pandemic, saving countless lives. Until now, many organisations have focused their Big Data efforts on GDPR compliance. But there is so much more that can be done, to unleash the power of Big Data and turn raw data into business gold. This can only be achieved, however, if the right people are on board.

Business strategies and workforce strategies go hand-in-hand. Therefore, as organisations plan their ‘next steps’ where their Big Data infrastructure is concerned, they must also look at how they will attract, engage and retain the professionals needed to turn their plans into action. Let’s take a look at four key areas that employers should consider when developing their Big Data workforce strategy:

Ensure your remuneration keeps pace

While demand for Big Data skills has increased, our research found that remuneration for these skills has stalled in recent months. Permanent salaries only increased by 0.1% over the last year, the smallest growth of any of the five technology disciplines tracked. Added to this, contractor day rates fell by 5%. This may demonstrate that the market is rebalancing. After all, in years gone by, Big Data skills were scarcer and employers had to put their hand in their pocket to secure the best. While candidate supply may more closely meet demand right now, that won’t necessarily be the case for long. As the industry continues to evolve, businesses must keep a close eye on the market to ensure they continue to offer the remuneration package required to maintain their position as an employer of choice.

Don’t overlook the value of contractors

While it’s important to invest in permanent Big Data professionals, employers shouldn’t overlook the value of contractors. As the Internet of Things continues to gather pace, the lines between different tech disciplines are blurring – particularly where Big Data and IT Security are concerned. This has already created the need for Big Data professionals to quickly upskill and diversify into new areas, and we can expect this to accelerate in the years ahead. In these circumstances, contractors can be a great support in training existing Big Data professionals, so they are continually equipped with the skills needed to add long-term value to your organisation.

Look beyond the Data Scientist

Naturally, Data Scientists are very much associated with Big Data. They are the new rock stars of the tech sector, and their prominence is in part associated with the success of data-driven companies such as Google, Amazon and Netflix. Nonetheless, many other skills are associated with Big Data too – including Matlab, SAS, Hadoop, and general programming languages such as C, C++, Python and Java. Let’s also not forget that the many administrative roles that support the infrastructure on which data resides and tools run. When looking at the long-term development of your organisation’s Big Data footprint, it’s important that the availability of all of these skills are projected and taken into account. The focus cannot just be on Data Scientists.

Always remember the long-term picture

For some organisations, Big Data has been a necessary evil. They have made the investment required to ensure compliance with the GDPR, however they cannot see how it will ever make them money. They often have poor data consolidation processes, and a lot of grunt work must be done before senior executives can marvel over 3D holographic data visualisations and get real value from their data. Nonetheless, persistence is critical. While the workload may look daunting right now, the ability to better process, secure and manage data will set organisations them apart from the competition. Long-term, consistent investment is critical. Big Data cannot slip from the boardroom agenda.

Download our latest Tech Cities Job Watch Q1 2018 report to find out more.

Looking for Big Data jobs? Find out more here.