Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice
mobile search icon

MBA Careers: Demand For Data Analytics Talent Outstrips Supply

As executives warm to business analytics recruiters warn of a shortage of leadership talent needed to develop data strategies.

Mon May 11 2015

The mass adoption of big data has seen companies across sectors scramble to hire enough data scientists to glean insights and drive decision making.

That fierce demand for talent has spread to the more senior level jobs, according to Yehuda Bassok, USC Marshall School of Business professor and chair of the Department of Data Sciences and Operations.

“We’re seeing very strong demand,” he says. Consulting firms like KPMG and Deloitte in particular are vying to get access to students of USC’s MSC in Business Analytics to identify the best talent to hire, he says. “They want to recruit.”

Strategy consulting firm Accenture estimates that the US could see demand for analytics talent outstrip supply by more than 250,000 positions this year alone.

Jennifer George, director of the master’s in business analytics at Melbourne Business School, says: “There are distinct and specialized jobs available in analytics and these are quite difficult to fill because of the lack of graduates coming onto the market with those skills.”

Apart from general lack of analytics talent, there is specifically a shortage of team leaders in this area, says Arne Strauss, associate professor of operational research who teaches the MSc Business Analytics at Warwick Business School.

He says that IBM is keen to take on graduates with analytics skills, along with the likes of software firm SAP, Google and HP, the US tech conglomerate.

There is increasing demand in the public sector, and from the healthcare and retail industries for big data expertise, he adds. “Every sector is showing interest now.”

Peter Fader, who leads Wharton’s Customer Analytics Initiative, says there are enough people with C-level ambitions to match with big companies - which are slowly starting to believe the path to the C-suite will include having analytics training. “We’re training business leaders,” he adds.

The use of big data is increasingly necessary for firms to be competitive, says Dustin Pusch, director of decision sciences and business analytics at George Washington University’s business school.

He highlights the retail and finance industries, and operations and logistics areas, as being ahead of the big data curve.

Companies are trying to fill the skills gap by offering training.

DeGroote School of Business in North America recently launched an EMBA degree focused on big data with IBM and CIBC, Canada’s fifth largest chartered bank by deposits.

KPMG will invest £20 million in a data analytics research centre at Imperial College Business School in London – which Mazhar Hussain, a director at KPMG Digital, told BusinessBecause would provide strategic access to talent.

IBM and Telfer School of Management have invested around $5 million into a similar centre at Telfer.

MBAs do not need to have in-depth technical skills, says Arne at Warwick, but they need to have a basic understanding of analytics to be able to glean insights from data.

Professor Kalyan Talluri, director of the MSc in Business Analytics at Imperial College, says: “MBAs should think more in terms of evidence-based or data-based decision skills, rather than relying entirely on intuition and gut-feeling.”