GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Business

May 4, 2013

Analysts in demand as big data becomes big business

Kossi Gavi drives to class on Sunday afternoons to learn retail software, and the reason is simple.

People who wield computers to analyze large amounts of digital information are in high demand, and Gavi is learning a program that chain stores worldwide use to run their businesses. Workers who know the program can earn up to $80,000 per year.

“It’s a very good program if you want more opportunities to make more money,” said the 43-year-old former refugee from Togo, now a few months from earning a bachelor’s degree at Metropolitan State University.

Businesses today control massive and growing streams of information that flow from cash registers, patient records, smartphones, warehouses, the sensors in your Nikes, databases, Facebook and good old-fashioned loyalty cards.

The challenge is finding people who can put it all together and make better strategy. Everyone from the Central Intelligence Agency to Gander Mountain is on the hunt.

“I would challenge you to describe to me an organization of any size in any industry or not-for-profit setting that will not be leveraging this,” said Isaac Cheifetz, a headhunter working to find the Mayo Clinic a head of information management and analytics. “Name one. I can’t.”

Businesses have the data to keep sale racks thin, streamline shipping and get more people to click ads. What they need are better analysts. It’s a new kind of job, and it’s coming to your workplace if it’s not already there.

The McKinsey Institute predicted in 2011 that a big-data boom would create up to 190,000 new deep-analytics positions in the United States, and demand for 1.5 million data-savvy managers.

If you can run Hadoop — open-source software used by Google, Yahoo and Facebook to analyze the deluges of information churned out by the Internet _ you might get a free flight to the San Francisco Bay Area for a job interview, said Ravi Bapna, director of the University of Minnesota’s Social Media and Business Analytics Collaborative.

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