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Is the need for data analysts in India exaggerated?

CIO India staff | July 22, 2014
In contrast to all the hoopla around the need for data analysts, some Indian CIOs aren't ready to hire business analysts. Here's why.

Is The Need for Data Analysts in India Exaggerated?

The IT industry might be tripping over each other fighting for analytics professionals, but at some Indian enterprises, CIOs say it isn't quite yet the time to hire separate data analysts--pointing to perhaps a mismatch between what enterprises are looking for and what's available.

In the last two years, the demand data analysts, data scientists, business intelligence professionals, has skyrocketed. In a recent Gartner report, the research agency pointed out that by 2015, big data will produce 4.4 million jobs globally, but only one-third of those jobs will be filled.

According to McKinsey, India will need 2 lakh data scientists in the next few years.

The growing need for business analytics is driving a mushrooming of analytics courses. From ISB to the IIMs, and from Jigsaw Academy to the IITs, there's a whole host of courses now available to train IT professionals in analytics. It's also leading to substantial increases in salaries for data analysts.

In contrast to all that demand, some Indian CIOs say they don't see the need to hire someone to just analyze data.

"In generic terms, I don't think hiring a separate person to analyze data will make our work easier and more effective," said S.S. Sharma, chief GM-IT, JK Tyre and Industries.

"I do not feel that it is essential to hire a data analyst separately," says Sanjay Chowdhry, head-IT, General Cable Energy India. "Whether it is big data analysis or something else, if you are using a perfect software and have the proper tools and all available resources, there is no need for a separate analyst."

It's also true that major challenge to the use of BI or analytics within Indian enterprises isn't really a lack of talent to derive meaningful insights. It's something more prosaic: The quality of data.

According to CIO research, a majority of Indian CIOs (51 percent) say that the largest hurdle in adopting BI/analytics products are data quality problems. In comparison, challenges with talent rank lower. For example, 27 percent of Indian CIOs say that hiring BI/analytics talent is too expensive; and only 18 percent says training internal staff in BI is too time-intensive and costly.

Having a separate person to analyze data comes with the challenge of ensuring that that resource is bringing in some kind of impact.

"In my case," says Sharma, "there are 200 people using BI in the organization, and it has had a great impact on the organization. On the other hand, if we hire a few people to slice, dice, and analyze data, I doubt it will have any kind of impact," he says.


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