For years experts have been saying that big data is changing the way we live, buy, produce and obviously how we work. In the latter field, we are witnessing a momentous transformation that is shaking the foundations of the corporate world. In a context where data is becoming the new “coal” of organisations, data experts, people who know how to collect and analyse data, are increasingly required professional figures. This is outlined in an IBM survey that showed that by 2020 there will be 700,000 people hired as data scientists, data architects and data engineers. And many more jobs are coming to the fore.
It is a known fact that an extraordinary quantity of information circulates every day on internet. Part of which we generate directly through our actions each time we connect to internet, through a smartphone, a tablet or a PC. Another chunk derives from smart objects that are capable of connecting to internet and exchanging information, a sector known as Internet of Things (IoT). Big data is the aggregation of this information that organisations can gather and monitor thanks to off-the-shelf software.
However, the value-added in big data is not in information gathering but in its interpretation.
By analysing data at its disposal, a company can grasp the real needs of its consumers and customise its offer. The advantages spread to manufacturing. Industries can, thanks to smart sensors, gauge at an early stage the state of health of their equipment, which when connected to a network instantly reveal their condition, thus enabling companies to save a lot of money in repairs and optimise the production process.
The situation is similar in agriculture. Sensors collect data on the state of crops and allow farmers to act pre-emptively, for example irrigating the ground or monitoring the sun exposure of their produce.
Big data is also used in the social sphere (cities can use it to facilitate mobility or foster energy savings and environmental sustainability) and in the health sector (thanks to wearable devices that monitor the health conditions of patients and send real-time data to medical staff, enabling them to intervene promptly).
And in the workplace? There are three key words to understand how big data is creating new jobs: collection, analysis and security. And here are the five most sought after profiles.
- Data Scientist. It is a versatile profile with skills in programming, statistics and business. What does he/she do? He/she is in charge of extracting information from data produced by the company to optimise processes and facilitate decision making. In some companies, data scientists also analyse external data regarding the market and competition.
- Data Architect. This figure has a key role in the use of big data for a company. He/she is in charge of engineering the network infrastructure to collect, archive and protect data. Among his/her tasks are to identify the technology to guarantee the compatibility of the different systems.
- Big Data Engineer. A few years ago simple databases were sufficient to gather information. Nowadays, with big data, the developer’s job has become more complex. A big data engineer has to design and manage all the infrastructure needed to collect a large quantity of complex data. To do so, he/she has to master platforms that facilitate the gathering of data such as Hadoop, Spark and NoSQL databases.
- Data Protection Officer. A DPO is a person with computer engineering and legal skills. His/her task is to evaluate how personal data is managed by the organisation and whether its handling is done respecting European and national privacy regulations.
- Chief Data Officer. He/she oversees the entire team working on big data. The skills needed are multiple, ranging from technical know-how (business intelligence, security, data infrastructure) to business expertise.