While the proportion of firms using big data analytics remains relatively small recruiters are finding it difficult to source the talent they need.

Of the more than 1,000 firms polled by IT skills body e-skills UK just one in five are implementing or plan to implement a big data analytics scheme.

But more than half of recruitment firms hiring people for big data-related roles in the UK reported they had difficulty finding people with the necessary skills and experience.

Big data is defined as data being collected very rapidly in large volumes and from a variety of sources. An example is credit card transactions captured by a bank. Big data analytics would be a bank using models of normal customer behaviour to analyse those credit card transactions for fraud.

“There is a shortage of analytical talent that needs to be addressed and requires government, academia and industry to work together,” said Jim Goodnight, CEO and co-founder of the analytics firm SAS Institute, which has just opened a new office in London and commissioned the eSkills UK report.

The skills required for big data roles were identified by the report as:

Data-related processes and methodologies

  • Business Intelligence
  • NoSQL
  • Data Warehouse
  • Big Data
  • ETL

Data-related applications and frameworks

  • Oracle BI EE
  • MongoDB
  • MySQL
  • Hadoop
  • Informatica

IT processes and methodologies

  • Agile development
  • Test driven development
  • Object-orientated programming
  • Scrum
  • Service orientated architecture

IT application and language 

  • Oracle
  • Java
  • SQL
  • Linux 
  • JavaScript

Professor Philip Treleaven, from the University College of London, said universities teaching analytics need to stress to students that analytics skills today had a use in a wide range of industries – from retail to to e-health.

“The problem is students don’t realise big data analytics goes
beyond working for Goldman [Sachs] on some risk models,” he said.

“There is a real need to focus on business analytics, and in particular ask our colleagues working in the social sciences to look at developing courses that will tap into the richness of information that is available from consumers through initiatives such as customer loyalty schemes.”

Unsurprisingly of the surveyed firms it is the larger organisations that are more likely to undertake big data analytics. Just over one third of the 500 companies with 100 or more staff have implemented or are in the process of implementing big data schemes. By 2017 almost one third of the firms polled say they will have completed a big data project.

There are about 31,000 staff within large organisations in the UK working in big data-related roles, according to the survey, about 32 percent of which are in IT-focused roles and 57 percent in data-focused roles. 

SAS provides more than £6m of software and materials to UK and Ireland universities and supports more than 50 PhD and MSc programmes.