More than one third (35%) of companies believe that creativity is one of the most important qualities of a big data project, a survey of senior executives has revealed.
Reinforcing this move away from a narrow corporate focus on IT skills, fewer than two thirds (59%) believed that technical expertise remained a key attribute, whereas broader analytical capabilities such as problem solving (cited by 38%) and business acumen (32%) figured highly on the list of essential qualities.
As a result, only 43% of companies demand technical IT or developer backgrounds when recruiting for big data projects. By contrast, 35% are looking at the business analyst community, while business intelligence expertise and data scientists are also in strong demand.
“At Songkick, business skills and creativity are at least as important as the pure technical skills for data scientists,” said Dan Quine, CTO of the concert-tracking website Songkick and visiting professor at the University of Leeds’ School of Computing.
“Data analysis always takes place in the context of business strategy and decisions. As such data scientists have to understand what business problems they are solving and how their work advances the company's goals. They have to communicate complex results to non-technical colleagues and work with them to make the right decisions.
“While great analytic skills will always be required, they are useless unless the results are understandable by everyone in the company and have a clear impact on business success.”
Duncan Ross, director, data science at Teradata, which commissioned the survey, added: “Many businesses are now looking for data scientists with a rare blend of creativity, intelligence and the ability to communicate.
“Rather than seeking all these skills in one individual, a more practical approach is to build a team-based big data capability which combines the necessary business and IT skills across a group of individuals. Collectively, they can then interact with the rest of the organisation to embed best practice as a new standard way of assimilating, analysing and acting on data across the business.”