Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Buried Under Data

There are times in my life when my “to-do” list trumps my “done” list so completely that being “overwhelmed” doesn’t begin to describe the situation. I’m forced to explore other options:

1. Find a twin to split the duties?
2. Consider cloning?
3. Wave a white flag, and take a nap?

So far I’ve opted to simply buckle down and tough it out (it’s only my email inbox, after all), but I don’t know what I would be tempted to try if I found myself in the situation The New York Times shed light on with their recent article, New Ways to "Exploit Raw Data May Bring Surge of Innovation, a Study Says."

Due to the integration of sophisticated computer tracking systems by businesses across the industry spectrum, the data pool is deeper than ever. The information collected is greater in not only numbers, but complexity, breadth, and influence. It is exciting to think of the potential advancements and innovations on the horizon once this data is analyzed. The actual process of getting the job done, however, is what’s daunting.

As it turns out, there just aren't enough analytically-minded individuals capable of handling the heaps of data harvested. One estimate given is that the amount of business data doubles every 1.2 years. The good news for statisticians is, their pipeline is guaranteed. The bad news for those of you looking to employ these individuals is that there is a large gap in the amount of work to be done, and the number of statisticians with the "deep analytical skills" necessary to do it. The article quotes that the US will require 140,000 to 190,000 more capable people to adequately handle the amount of data that will need to be analyzed. I don’t know where these savvy people are going to come from—the quantitative work force simply isn’t there.

The quantitative market is already so tight (it always has been). This rise in raw data is going to cause that pressure to build tremendously. As encouraging as it is on one hand to see the industry advance, it’s more than a little overwhelming (and ominous, frankly) to know that there simply aren’t enough people to satisfy the need.

No easy answer for this one.

More information from The New York Times can be found here: http://nyti.ms/j5DyfK.