3 jobs that big data projects affect in major ways

Big data projects are transforming how some employees do their jobs, and not all workers are happy about these changes.

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Many companies that have launched big data projects take into account how these initiatives affect hiring and job roles. For instance, some businesses have created new data analyst, data scientist, and chief data officer positions. On the IT side, they have broadened their concept of a corporate data architecture by including every other user department that might have a cache of big data.

Let's take a look at three examples of how analytics and big data are transforming jobs and employees.

SEE: Job description: Data Scientist (Tech Pro Research)

The office worker

Companies know it takes substantial work to find the right types of data feeds for their systems and to ensure that the data being pumped through these feeds is accurate. Vendors offer tools to assist in automating this tedious process, but many companies find there still is no clear-cut replacement for their employees' firsthand knowledge about the data and the business. Consequently, companies must either assign lower-level office workers to hand-sort data, classify the data, and label the data, or contract the work to someone outside the company.

The commercial truck driver

There is a shortage of truck drivers; factors why include long hours, the ability of many younger people to find better paying jobs, and drivers are dealing with more regulations, such as the Compliance, Safety and Accountability guidelines. "The market for qualified, experienced drivers remains extremely tight," Bob Costello, an economist for the America Trucking Association (ATA), told TruckersReport.

In addition, analytics has impacted the trucking industry in major ways. Sensors placed within trucks now monitor truckers' driving habits, such as the speed they're traveling, how efficiently they use their brakes, how far they're traveling per day, which routes they're taking, and even how long they're stopping and leaving their engines to idle.

Truckers are graded on these results in their performance reviews. Some drivers welcome this electronic scrutiny, but many don't. The shortage of truck drivers could ultimately affect what we pay for goods.

The GIS manager

For decades, geographical information systems (GIS) analysts and managers have been comfortably sequestered in their own departments, and only called upon to provide mapping information when it was needed. Now, locational analytics and improvements enable the collection and aggregation of data along the constructs in a GIS system, providing enriched information contexts for mapping data.

For instance, government roadwork planners can now see the underground utility pipelines on a map for a road that is scheduled to be dug up for repair, and construction workers can see the composition of the soils beneath a proposed building site that is to be excavated.

Most road, construction, and other departments within a government agency don't know this GIS visibility is available; they're using antiquated and time-consuming methods to determine what must be done to prepare a target site before work commences.

However, executive managers of these government agencies do know that GIS capabilities are now expanded, so they charge their GIS managers to get out among users to find out what types of work they are doing and then determine if GIS can bring anything to this work besides maps. The end result is that GIS jobs are being redefined from mapping support to business intelligence analytics that are to be leveraged across the entire organization.

Are GIS specialists comfortable with the change?

"Many aren't," said Adam Carnow, an account executive for ESRI, which produces GIS software. "They are comfortable doing their jobs the way they have always done them, and it is a new and unfamiliar role for them to get out from behind their desks and begin visiting other departments to see how work is being done and how a more analytics-intensive GIS can help."

The bottom line for IT leaders

Companies tend to overlook the more subtle day-to-day work changes big data is exerting on employees and jobs. This is why managing change at the day-to-day level should be added to the to-do list of every manager, HR professional, and C-level executive.

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