IT staffing and the big (data) bang theory

Anyone in IT staffing or involved with IT data storage, retrieval, or management will tell you that one of the latest buzzwords floating around is big data. Admittedly, my understanding of what big data is (and there are various definitions) is basic. But I do know that it will eventually affect most IT staffs.

So what’s the big deal about big data and what does it have to do with IT staffing? This is another example of how trends in technology affect a company’s ability to attract and retain talent. The demand for IT skills is constantly changing and companies need to evaluate their staffing resources and their ability to respond when new trends emerge or demand picks up.

I’ll use big data as an example, but the following IT staffing issues can apply to any IT trend or new technology. As you read about these issues, think about how prepared you are to deal with them.

It’s the latest thing. Whether big data, mobile applications, or social media, there will always be emerging trends that will affect your IT staffing levels. While you have to keep your other projects staffed and moving forward, sometimes you will also need very specialized, niche skills. Do you know which skills you need today and which skills you might need tomorrow?

It affects multiple areas of IT. While some trends are isolated to specific areas, many (like big data) involve multiple areas, such as infrastructure, storage, and software applications. So these trends require various IT skills, some of which will be easy to find while others will be more difficult. Your IT staffing resources need to be varied and able to source IT professionals in a variety of areas.

It has both legacy and emerging aspects. This is a particularly difficult aspect of many new technology trends. Big data is a perfect example. It requires IT professionals that understand many legacy aspects of data storage and data structures. But it also requires professionals that understand some of the emerging open-source software frameworks like Hadoop that will be needed to access the data. The challenge for IT staffing is to find both.

It has the word “big” in its name. OK, so maybe this isn’t the best example, but here's the point: What is the scale of resources that you will need for the next big project that requires a lot of time or resources or both? Are you confident that you can tackle the next big thing with the internal IT staffing resources or IT staffing partners that you have today?

As I said in the beginning, I don’t fully understand big data, but it sounds pretty cool. Being able to access a ton (actually more like a petabyte or exabyte) of organized information in fairly short order will hopefully help companies make things better, faster, or more accurate. But that can only happen if you have the right IT staff and IT staffing resources in place to make it happen.


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