Staffing in Big Data: What Type of Talent Should You Hire?

August 5th, 2013

Big Data is here to stay. And while it may sound daunting at first, it can have exciting implications for your company as you tap into this new business – and employment – arena.

Big Data Defined

Big Data is the massive amount of data available to business leaders – a quantity so large that it’s difficult to process using traditional methods. Big Data is measured in exabytes, the equivalent of one quintillion bytes of information. For instance, consider these facts:

  • A 40 percent growth in annual global data generated is predicted by most industry experts.
  • Two hundred thirty five terabytes of information were collected by the U.S. Library of Congress in a single month in April, 2011.
  • Fifteen of 17 major business sectors in the U.S. had more data stored per company than that.
  • The value of Big Data to annual U.S. health care spending alone exceeds $300 billion.

So, how do you hire the best Big Data team to ensure that your company maintains its competitive edge? As noted by data analyst specialist Mike Loukides, “the future belongs to companies and people that turn data into products.” Two key positions on your organizational chart are data/web analyst and data scientist. Let’s take a look at each one, how they differ, and likewise, what they may have in common:

Data Scientists

D.J. Patil, who collaborated to build the data and analytics groups at Facebook and LinkedIn, describes a data scientist as having “that unique blend of skills that can both unlock the insights of data and tell a fantastic story via that data.”


And it’s even more staggering when you consider that there are only about 55 data scientist positions currently open in the United States. But, you can be an industry pioneer by looking for these characteristics in a current or future data scientist:

  • Technical expertise: You may assume that a data scientist has a computer background, but this is not necessarily the case. More likely, he or she is a scientist. For instance, the inventor of LinkedIn’s People You May Know feature is a physicist.
  • Curiosity: The ability to distill a problem down into a clear set of hypotheses that can be tested.
  • Communication Skills: The ability to translate data into a compelling story that moves your business forward.

Data/Web Analysts

A data/web analyst generally does not have the programming skill set of a data scientist, but does require a strong understanding of analytics packages. Both positions call for a passion for data and a high level of curiosity, as these professionals collaborate to dissect data and glean new insights from it.

Data/web analysts are more readily available – with 535 open positions in the US – so your best strategy may be to create a career path for your high-performing analysts to develop into data scientists.

Build a Team

It all boils down to building a team of experts with the skill set, tenacity and drive for innovative breakthroughs that can harness Big Data and turn it into a winning tactic for your company. To meet your recruiting needs, work with a big data recruiting firm who can evaluate your hiring needs and find the best professional to fill the position.

Need more information on this and other HR business strategies? Contact the experts at the Select Group today.

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