4 Alternative Sources of Big Data Marketing Experts

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Demand for  talent involved with gathering and processing data is set to have created 4.4 million jobs globally by the end 2015.  But only one-third of those positions will be filled. Who will you turn to when you can’t get the talent you need to take advantage of your marketing data?

There is no doubt that Big Data is a huge growth market, and is becoming one of the few on-premises projects seeing increased spending as companies move less data-sensitive functions to the cloud.

In a report on Big Data growth, IDC said visual data discovery tools will grow 2.5 times faster than the rest of the business intelligence (BI) market and spending on cloud-based Big Data and Analytics (BDA) solutions will grow three times faster than spending for on-premises solutions. Marketers are leading the charge, set to spend $11.5 Billion on data gathering and analytics solutions this year.

Watch More from IBM Business Analytics on “Big Data, Analytics and the Skills Gap”

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However, the potential of Big Data is and will continue to be hamstrung by a lack of talent for the coming years and marketing probably won’t see its full potential for some time. IDC predicts that in the U.S. alone there will be 181,000 deep analytics roles in 2018 and five times that many positions requiring related skills in data management and interpretation.

However, there won’t be enough qualified applicants to fill those jobs. That’s because Big Data marketing analytics requires skills beyond just using a dashboard to monitor data streams. Combined with the relative youth of the discipline, it’s become incredibly difficult to find the analytics talent needed for advanced marketing. A survey from McKinsey Global Institute predicted that by 2018, the U.S. could be dealing with a shortage of 1.5 million Big Data experts.

So, what do you do if you can’t find a Big Data guru with an advanced degree? Try one of these approaches to finding, developing and retaining Big Data talent.

1. Start Internally with Employees who Speak Data AND Marketing

Companies often think they need someone with a PhD in advanced data science or mathematics, but one alternative approach is to find someone who already knows your business and knows marketing, then teach them the analytics skills.

“Starting with an understanding of the business is more important than starting with an understanding of machine learning,” says Nick Heudecker, research director for information management at Gartner.  “You can teach people data manipulation and statistics or find someone with a degree who has some background in programming. You can source those people, give them additional training and move them into your Big Data or advanced analytics teams,” he says.

As an employer or manager, you should always be looking for strong opportunities to further train and educate your staff. Offering incentives to your analytically-minded marketers to take on extra Big Data training and responsibility is a great investment that pays tremendous dividends.

3. Snap up Excel Wizards

marketing analytics staffing wizardJason Chavarry, a manager in the people analytics department at The Hershey Company, finds Big Data-capable talent in another unusual place: advanced Microsoft Excel users.

“Excel is the breeding ground. A lot of people get the abilities of Big Data from there and they tend to get asked to help with other jobs,” he says.

Excel is an entry-level conduit where people learn the basic functionality that is found in Big Data analytics, he added. “Everyone is used to a lot of the basic functionality. It’s how you lay out a report or spreadsheet, what rules do you create. Excel goes across all of them. You can use it for base level stats, basic data analysis and visualization,” he adds.

But Chavarry notes that you need different tools for different scale projects. For an analytics project on 5,000 rows of data, Excel is a terrific tool. For 20 million rows, Excel would not be powerful enough. Then you need Big Data software and programming knowledge, but he is not committed to any one particular programming language.

“You’re not really concerned about which one. If someone has the demonstrated ability to do one language, they have the ability to do the others. You look for that learning agility because they should be able to focus on the others,” says Chavarry.

3. Use Marketing Analytics Staffing or Consultants

Not all Big Data analytics capabilities have to come from a full-time employee. (TWEET THIS)

In many cases, it’s easier or more cost effective to import contractors or consultants through marketing analytics staffing for your Big Data needs.

It’s often easier to bring in specialized talent like this on a contract basis than find someone who can commit to doing it indefinitely. This is a great way to get an advanced Big Data program set up and get your current staff trained alongside an experienced expert. Once the analytics infrastructure is built, it requires less expertise to maintain.

4. Internal Talent Building

marketing analytics staffing growth

With talent scarce, the solution for some companies may be to grow their own talent farm. Ashley Stirrup, CMO with Talend, a Big Data software integration firm, says the company has gotten good results by establishing a mentorship program, pairing young talent with older experts. You can acquire a veteran Big Data genius through a marketing data analytics recruiter, then use them as leaders to train and guide another generation.

“There is a whole other cast of skillsets for people who do the bridge between the business and these new technologies,” says Stirrup. “Often, business people don’t realize the potential of new technologies coming along and the tech people don’t realize how to use it.”.

Unfortunately, keeping the talent can be difficult. Talend customers say that as they bring someone in and get them trained on new technologies, that person can find a job somewhere else for 50% more money, so they are having a hard time finding talent and a hard time keeping them after they are trained.

So how do you keep them, short of a binding contract that might poison the relationship with the employee? “The key things are showing them they can build their skillset and can be more valuable at your company. Also, you want to set expectations, not be looking at contracts,” says Stirrup.

Heudecker also thinks companies should incentivize rather than shackle talent. “You may not need a team of PhDs. Maybe just one person with a Masters in statistics or computer science and an MBA to tell the story to the group is enough. Look at people’s undergraduate degrees and if they are interested in the data story, build on that. Companies should offer incentive-based training and some way to insure the employee stays on for a while because these skills are in such demand,” he says.

Eventually, Big Data will become the new normal in marketing and the talent pool will expand to meet the increased demand. In the meantime, you’ll have to be creative with your hiring and talent retention strategies to keep the talent gap bridged.

Article source: CIO.com

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