Big data is on the agenda of nearly every future-focused operation, for good reason. "Organizations are drowning in the amount of data that comes in, but it's all very siloed. People have the information, but they can't find it," says Daniel Burrus, founder and CEO of Burrus Research Associates in Hartland, Wis., and the author of Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible.
So enterprises need a new breed of worker who understands how to collect, interpret and analyze vast amounts of data in a way that's truly useful for making business decisions.
"There's a huge explosion of consumer data, and every company that's even close to a consumer market is trying to figure out what to do with all this data -- to move it from data to insight to actionable items instantaneously," says Korn/Ferry's Delattre.
Skills required: Like many of the other hot jobs in IT, this specialty requires the right combination of business and technical skills. The ideal candidate needs to be familiar with sophisticated algorithms, analytics and marketing -- and with ultra-high-speed computing, data mining, statistics and even artificial intelligence.
"IT needs to understand what questions the business [is] trying to answer so it can make better business decisions faster and cheaper," Russell explains. A data scientist "has to know where all the data is and how to push it out, but also what data is the biggest priority, where did it originate, and how to structure the business process so there's no garbage in and garbage out," she adds.
"You need process management skills and communication skills, so you can say, 'I can build this for you, but we need a partnership because a tool alone isn't going to get us what we need,'A " Russell explains.
The data scientist position goes beyond the skills generally seen in a BI analyst. These new specialists will not only find and deliver the information; they will also be the ones using it for extensive forecasting. "You want someone who can take the raw data and apply it in order to predict [customer] behavior," Delattre says.
Delattre describes the ideal candidate as someone with an undergraduate degree in computer science and a master's in marketing with some operations management expertise. It's a specialized skill set, he admits, but anyone with those credentials could step into the new positions being created under titles like chief market scientist, chief data analyst and the more creative-sounding customer sleuth.
Augmented Reality Specialist
Companies building apps that are designed to enhance how people view the world around them need technologists who can deliver that experience. And demand for people with that expertise is expected to grow, according to Burrus.