Big data is growing: Here’s how you can turn it into a career

June 17, 2019 · 7 min read · By ASU Online
Data propels the modern marketplace. Organizations in many industries have accepted this reality and now maintain backend computer architecture designed to support myriad applications and endpoints, as well as process actionable business intelligence at scale.

In fact, 60 percent of companies worldwide have implemented such technology, per research from Dresner Advisory Services. This sector-agnostic shift — known as the big data revolution — has affected multiple operational functions, including hiring and recruitment in particular.

Information technology specialists are among the most sought-after professionals in the current job market, according to analysts from LinkedIn Learning, who discovered that nine of the top 10 in-demand hard skills centered on data collection, analysis and management. Unfortunately, there are too few IT workers with these innovative capabilities to meet the market demand. An estimated 65 percent of global chief information officers believe technical talent gaps hurt their businesses, Harvey Nash and KPMG found. IT professionals willing to pursue upskilling opportunities can begin to fill these openings and carve out big data career paths. Where can these individuals develop the necessary competencies and knowledge?

Dissecting the state of big data

Companies across most industries have begun using big data for mission-critical processes and workflows. Most cultivate these cutting-edge operations by way of digital transformation programs, which researchers for the International Data Corporation say will account for $1.25 trillion in global enterprise spend in 2019 and eventually consume almost $2 trillion by 2022. Through these initiatives, businesses of all sizes are rolling out data-driven, paradigm-shifting technologies that facilitate never-before-seen operational efficiency and scalability.

Artificial intelligence software is among the many emerging innovations that underlie big data infrastructure. Once futuristic fantasy, the technology has advanced to the point of deployment. Today, vehicle manufacturers use AI to create self-driving systems, while life sciences firms produce medical devices that monitor and respond to patients’ internal chemistries in real time, according to Deloitte. The same sort of AI innovation is even unfolding in the professional services sector, where insurance firms are using these tools to track claim patterns and automate payments and rejections. These companies, along with adopters in other sectors, are expected to spend more than $32 billion on AI technology in 2019, according to IDC.

The no-operations IT approach, called NoOps, is another big data-based advance influencing modern business. Technical specialists have traditionally devoted considerable time to coding new applications, implementing network patches and performing maintenance, all to develop backend systems that keep front-of-house functions online and working as intended. The NoOps methodology ends this manual work, allowing IT teams to harness newer technologies and techniques, such as cloud computing, containerization and serverless computing, to automate all technical operations and focus on achieving new levels of efficiency and scale. While in its early stages, NoOps possesses immense potential and is driving companies everywhere to look into its technological building blocks, including serverless infrastructure, which 22 percent of businesses have already adopted, per research from the Cloud Foundry.

Big data has also led to the development of hybrid work environments where humans, hardware and software collaborate to achieve optimal production results. Industry innovators such as Amazon created the blueprint for this approach, and now enterprises in numerous niches are adopting and perfecting it, harnessing AI’s power, augmented and virtual reality, cloud computing and robotics to cultivate future workflows. Approximately 51 percent of organizations are working to facilitate human-technology symbiosis and lay the groundwork for the hybrid future, analysts for Deloitte found.

These and other enterprise IT innovations linked to big data have stoked excitement among consumers and industry insiders. However, few organizations have the internal technical talent they need to pursue rapid adoption. For instance, there are fewer than 25,000 certifiable AI experts globally, The New York Times reported. With countless companies moving forward with AI implementation, there is just not enough talent to go around. This offers significant potential for emerging specialists looking for new information technology careers.

Assessing possible information technology careers

While many IT professionals interact with big data architecture regularly, there are some whose primary objective is to ensure this technology functions as intended. These include:

  • Cybersecurity specialist: Hackers pose a threat to enterprise IT assets, including hardware and software components devoted to big data. They orchestrated more than 1,200 breaches and stole more than 446 million sensitive files in 2018 alone, analysts from Identity Theft Resource Center found.

    Cybersecurity specialists work to counter these black hats by developing internal policies centered on protecting online assets and working with internal resources and vendors to build the digital defenses needed to keep out infiltrators intent on disrupting operations or making off with customer or employee data. The demand for these professionals is high as a result. In fact, analysts for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predict U.S businesses will hire approximately 28,500 cybersecurity specialists between 2016 and 2026.

  • Database architect: Big data infrastructure depends on commercial-grade database technology. Without these expansive caches, computational tools of this scale — or any scale for that matter — cannot exist. As ASU Online Lecturer and IT expert Usha Jagannathan says, “If the database architecture is not designed well, then everything goes down the drain.”

    Database architects create and maintain these building blocks while ensuring that enterprise software can effectively interact with these information stores. American companies are on track to recruit almost 14,000 of these IT professionals for related big data career paths between 2016 and 2026, according to the BLS.

  • Network administrator: Like databases, networks also provide essential support to the software and hardware associated with big data. Information collection and processing activities, at least those involving web-enabled endpoints, cease without internet connectivity, after all. Network administrators ensure that internal wireless installations are functioning properly and are therefore critical IT contributors. It is the reason U.S. businesses are on pace to hire 24,000 of these professionals between 2016 and 2026, per the BLS.

Master of Science in Information Technology

An online Master of Science in Information Technology degree is among the avenues for IT advancement in the big data age. Such a degree can help you cultivate the expertise and actionable skills you need to make an impact in numerous industries.

Finding the right instructional path

These information technology careers are ideal for IT professionals who want to upgrade their skills. They can do this through ASU Online Master of Science in Information Technology degree. This instructional path can guide students to multiple roles now in demand due to big data’s continued evolution. How?

The program begins with core courses that address a variety of foundational topics, like principles of computer and information technology, information analysis and modeling, software development and advanced information security. Students pursuing this online degree have the opportunity to participate in concentration courses as well, cultivating special competencies associated with IT niches like computer architecture and information security, and information systems development and management. Finally, the online MS in Information Technology degree concludes with an applied project and portfolio review, which allows students to apply the knowledge they gained in the classroom and evaluate their capabilities.

Overall, MSIT students learn how the latest state of the art big data technologies work at their foundation and how to use these technologies to perform sophisticated data storage, analysis, ETL, and system automation tasks. The MSIT program builds students’ scripting skills for the purpose of automating big data systems using the latest tools in that regard. The program prepares students for challenging tasks related to handling large amounts of data that is consistently generated, analyzed for extracting business, research or educational value out of it, as well as 24/7 automation and monitoring of analysis processes to ensure proper system operation.

This kind of academic experience can prepare emerging IT professionals for work in organizations embracing big data.

“Widening one’s knowledge is what ASU Online is all about,” says Jagannathan. “This is a graduate program where you can specialize in one particular area, and if you stay focused and disciplined, and work with passion and drive, then you can do anything.”

Are you interested in preparing for a career in big data? ASU Online can help you develop the knowledge needed to capitalize on roles involving the IT innovations behind big data.

ASU Online – Online Master of Science in Information Technology
Big Data Analytics Market 2018 by Dresner Advisory Services
2018 Workplace Learning Report by LinkedIn
2018 CIO Survey by Harvey Nash and KPMG
Worldwide Spending on Digital Transformation by the International Data Corporation
Tech Trends 2019 by Deloitte
Worldwide Spending on Cognitive and Artificial Intelligence by the International Data Corporation
Where PaaS, Containers and Serverless Stand in a Multi-Platform World by The Cloud Foundry
2018 Human Capital Trends by Deloitte
AI Researchers Are Making More Than $1 Million, Even at Nonprofits by The New York Times
2018 End-of-Year Data Breach Report by the Identity Theft Resource Center
Information Security Analysts by the Bureau of Labors Statistics
Database Administrators by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Network and Computer Systems Administrators by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Developers work on a mobile application.
IT professional reviewing the health of the network on his laptop.


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