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As the demand for big data grows, organizations are assessing future needs for technology and talent in order to respond.

Recently, Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering teamed with IBM to host a data analytics roundtable with government and industry participants from a multitude of sectors. The group discussed leading challenges and resource gaps, as well as sharing insight on the envisioned state of the future in this field.

Big data—large, complex sets of data—presents an opportunity for organizations to enhance productivity and innovation, but also poses challenges to find efficient ways to capture, analyze and share the sheer volume of information.

Leading research firms note the explosive growth of big data as a trend to watch. In January, International Data Corporation (IDC) released a new forecast predicting the worldwide market for big data technology and services will grow at a 31.7 percent compound annual growth rate to nearly $24 billion in 2016.

That also means a growing need for skilled talent. A 2011 report by the McKinsey Global Institute and McKinsey & Company’s Business Technology Office projected that the need for data-analytics talent would exceed supply by 50 to 60 percent by 2018.

McKinsey’s research suggests that in order to capture value from big data, organizations will have to deploy new data-centric technologies and analytic techniques that will help individuals and organizations to integrate, analyze, visualize and consume the growing torrent of big data.

Last October, Gartner issued a similar prediction, noting, “The demand for big data is growing, and enterprises will need to reassess their competencies and skills to respond to this opportunity. Jobs that are filled will result in real financial and competitive benefits for organizations. An important aspect of the challenge in filling these jobs lies in the fact that enterprises need people with new skills — data management, analytics and business expertise and nontraditional skills necessary for extracting the value of big data, as well as artists and designers for data visualization.”

The roundtable furthered efforts to align ASU’s research and education resources with the needs of the community. ASU and IBM are also collaborating to pursue a regional Center of Excellence that will drive development of expertise.

“Direct input from our industry partners guides new graduate and professional development programs to help organizations meet growing demand and take advantage of this opportunity,” says Karl Theisen, associate director, professional and executive programs for Fulton Engineering.

Attendees at the January roundtable included GoDaddy, Lockheed Martin, Aerojet, City of Phoenix, Avnet, Oracle and IO Data Centers.

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