TEKsystems® has released research focused specifically on Big Data initiatives. The survey results highlight significant expectations for spending increases, yet tempered confidence in IT departments’ ability to meet Big Data business demands. Additionally it uncovers that organizations are turning externally to address Big Data skills shortages through training and contingent hires. More than 200 IT leaders (CIOs, IT VPs, IT directors, IT hiring managers) were polled in February 2015. The complete survey results are available in TEKsystems’ online research library.

Key highlights from the survey include:

Nearly six out of 10 expect spending for Big Data initiatives to increase and express optimism in meeting demands; spending higher but confidence lower as compared to general it initiatives.

  • Sixty-one percent of IT leaders expect spending on Big Data to increase, while a mere 5% expect decreases. In terms of confidence to satisfy Big Data demands, 59% express confidence while 14% are unconfident.
  • When compared to findings from TEKsystems’ annual IT forecast for 2015, the number of IT leaders expecting Big Data spending increases far exceeds those who expected general IT spending increases (61% vs. 45%), while their confidence to satisfy Big Data demands is actually lower (59% vs. 71%).
  • According to TEKsystems, the data indicates current expectations of Big Data are still somewhat unrealistic due to market hype. Despite IT leaders expecting spending to increase, the confidence level in their department’s ability to meet Big Data demands in comparison to broader IT initiatives is lower. Four out of ten IT leaders are either neutral or unconfident in their team’s ability to satisfy Big Data demands. As a result, companies that made initial investments into Big Data may take a more measured approach to see if they can now extract a return.

Strategic Big Data roles more difficult to secure; architects, scientists and modelers chosen as top three.

  • Sixty-five percent of IT leaders rank Big Data architects as the most difficult role to fill. Data scientists (48%) and data modelers (43%) round out the top three most difficult to fill positions and are the only other positions securing more than 40% of responses.
  • More technical Big Data positions are ranked less difficult to fill and secured 40% or less of selections. Positions ranked in the following order, in decreasing difficulty to fill: Big Data developers (40%), Big Data analysts (31%), Big Data engineers (29%), database developers (27%) and database administrators (26%).
  • According to TEKsystems, the data analysis, data wrangling and algorithm expertise that Big Data architects and data scientists possess represent a very scarce skill set as compared to the more mainstream Big Data developers and administrators. Considering the challenges organizations face in dealing with the volume, velocity and variety of data, there is no surprise that these strategic roles are in high demand as they are critical to identifying the data with the highest business value that ultimately enables end-users to make better decisions more efficiently and effectively.

Data variety ranked as greatest Big Data challenge; benefits of Big Data sought in all areas.

  • Variety, the dimension of Big Data dealing with the different forms of data, hinders organizations from deriving value from Big Data the most, according to 45% of IT leaders. Velocity (speed of data) is next at 31%, followed by Volume (amount of data) at 24%.
  • The application of Big Data is happening in a number of business areas. Eighty-one% of leaders view operations and fulfillment as priority areas within the next 12 months. This was followed by customer satisfaction (53%), business strategy (52%), governance/risk/compliance (51%) and sales/marketing (49%).
  • According to TEKsystems, the variety of data presents the greatest area of struggle for IT leaders. For any organization to effectively use data to influence their business decisions, they first have to determine how to mine their data for actionable insight. Data alone is not enough; it’s the ability to leverage that data that makes it valuable. Additionally, it appears that the vast majority of IT leaders are looking to apply the benefits of Big Data to near-term and internally focused impact areas, such as operations and fulfillment and customer satisfaction. While still important, fewer IT leaders identify longer-term and externally focused aspects of business strategy and sales and marketing as priorities over the next 12 months.

People, not technology, key to successful Big Data investments; companies seeking to fill Big Data skills gaps leverage external solutions to train existing IT staff or hire contingent IT staff.

  • IT leaders cite training/development and realignment of existing staff as their leading approach (42%) to address Big Data skills gaps. This was followed by hiring contingent staff (35%), hiring full-time staff (29%) and outsourcing (20%). Surprisingly, 18% indicated they had no workforce strategy for addressing Big Data skills gaps.
  • Overall, 44% of IT leaders expect hiring for Big Data positions to increase, 52% expect it to stay the same and a mere 4% expect it to decrease.
  • According to TEKsystems,the importance of people in the success of Big Data initiatives is evident, with 96% of IT leaders expecting hiring to increase or stay the same. Furthering this belief is how organizations are going to address their IT department’s skill gaps as it relates to Big Data. Effective workforce management strategies that incorporate training and mixed hiring models (full-time and contingent) are critical to Big Data success.

“While Big Data is growing in maturity, organizations are still struggling with the main aspects that are required for Big Data success. The first thing to tackle is focusing on asking the right questions to understand what business value you actually want to extract from Big Data. Organizations should consult with Big Data experts from the very beginning to help flesh out these questions. The second is building IT teams made up of great people that possess the required experience and skill sets to solve the complex business challenges that Big Data presents,” says David Spires, TEKsystems director, applications division. “There is certainly immense value in Big Data, but without great people and a focus on the workforce, the prospects that Big Data can deliver will unfortunately rarely be realized. Too often organizations delay their workforce needs until it is too late. When the focus is building a team of great people, organizations will always yield better results than when they rely only on the technology.”