Analytics skills in demand – and analytics pros demanding top salaries

August 27, 2010
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Looking to hire top-notch data modelers, predictive analysts and other advanced data analytics professionals to beef up your organization’s analytics skills? Better get your checkbook ready.

As more and more companies deploy predictive analytics tools and other data analytics software and begin filling the ranks of their analytics team, the pool of available talent is shrinking and hiring costs are growing, according to industry analysts and executives at companies that are in the market for analytics skills.

Looking to hire top-notch data modelers, predictive analysts and other advanced data analytics professionals to beef up your organization’s analytics skills? Better get your checkbook ready.

As more and more companies deploy predictive analytics tools and other data analytics software and begin filling the ranks of their analytics team, the pool of available talent is shrinking and hiring costs are growing, according to industry analysts and executives at companies that are in the market for analytics skills.

“Workers that have this kind of knowledge are in high demand,” said Leslie Ament, an analyst at Hypatia Research LLC, a Lexington, Mass.-based research and consulting firm that specializes in customer data analytics.

As head of strategic risk analysis at New York City-based insurance firm Chartis Inc., John Savage knows firsthand the cost of hiring – and keeping – first-class advanced analytics pros. Savage manages an analytics team of seven people and is looking to grow it – and he has no illusions about what it will take.

“We are currently looking for a pretty senior person, and we know that it’s going to cost us,” he said.

But paying top dollar is worthwhile, Savage said, noting that his group has had zero turnover since 2004. That has allowed his analytics staff to build a good working rapport and achieve better and better results. “I don’t want anyone on my team being undercompensated,” he said. “We try to pay for value.”

Forrester Research Inc. analyst James Kobielus said it’s understandable that advanced analytics pros are in high demand. He noted that with traditional business intelligence (BI) reporting and query tools achieving mainstream adoption, a growing number of companies are looking to predictive analytics, data mining, text analytics and other analytics techniques to gain the next competitive edge.

But analytics has been primarily the domain of statisticians, quantitative analysts and other highly skilled workers. And with demand from employers rising, those coveted few who possess advanced analytics skills are being amply rewarded.

North Carolina State University’s advanced analytics master’s degree program offers a glimpse into the competitive world of analytics staffing. According to Dr. Michael Rappa, director of the school’s Institute for Advanced Analytics, 37 of the 39 students who completed the program in May got at least one job offer within 90 days – and many had multiple offers in hand before they even graduated.

Overall, the average number of job offers per student was 2.3, with 30% receiving three or more offers, Rappa said. And the positions offered – ranging from business analyst to director of quantitative analytics – pay what graduates of MBA programs are used to getting. The average salary offered to this year’s graduates, according to Rappa, was $94,000, including signing bonuses.

Different options for finding data analytics skills, staffing

Until recently, companies looking to establish a data analytics program had essentially two options on staffing if they had trouble hiring people with analytics skills. One was to outsource the job to third-party analytics providers such as Mu Sigma and Apollo Data Technologies.

IDC analyst Dan Vesset said the third-party firms have deep analytics skills and experience, meaning companies that use their services don’t have to invest time and money in hiring, training and organizing their own analytics teams…

(note: we at AnalyticBridge have our own candidate database and job posting service)

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