The New War for Talent—Demand for Cloud, Data Scientists Outstrips Supply | Article

Medieval Knight with swordCloud computing has become a paradigm-shifting technology. It frees up acres of real estate otherwise needed to house data centers and it distributes the cost of expensive software so companies only pay for what they use.

Cloud’s popularity has created a HR crisis: a shortage of engineers skilled to work in this brave new world. An IDC study released earlier this year found that companies could not fill approximately  1.7 million cloud computing-related job roles in 2012 because applicants lacked the training, certification and experience needed to work in a cloud-enabled world1.

Further, the study predicted that demand for IT professionals in this specialization will grow by 26 percent annually until 2015. A whopping seven million jobs will be created worldwide. Because new skills are needed, it is essential to undergo training and certification to prepare for these jobs. This creates huge opportunities for IT professionals who decide to undergo cloud computing training.

Professor Sowmyanarayan Sadagopan, founder director of the Indian Institute of Information Technology in Bangalore, says the demand for new competencies will soar in 2013, especially in areas such as cloud applications and data sciences. “The fact is that the cloud is now very real, there’s no debate about it,” he says. There are instances where, even if the cloud is more expensive, companies prefer it over running their own data centers.

Cushing Anderson, program vice president at IDC, says the availability of skilled cloud computing IT workers will be a persistent and pervasive challenge, requiring employers to create a sound strategy to stay ahead. Compare this shortage to other IT HV demands.

Anderson predicts IT talent shortages for other types of work will be temporary.

Why is this important? Companies that don’t run short of skilled professionals can bag the most coveted projects.

Another supply-demand gap: Big Data experts

Another area where there is a huge demand-supply gap is Big Data. As data continues to grow exponentially and in more media than ever imagined even a decade ago, those who can organize, store and retrieve the data in a way that provides insight or provides instant answers to queries, become modern-day IT gods. Such a modern-day god is known as data scientists, they have

  • The knowledge to deploy a number of tools and technologies
  • A mathematical mind
  • Strong business skills
  • The ability to pluck new insight from given data

According to McKinsey & Co., the US alone is falling short of 140,000 to 190,000 people with analytic expertise. Worse, it projects that by 2018, the US will need 60 percent more people with advanced degrees in statistics than will be available. Outsourcing firms specializing in analytics are big winners already.

The new employee DNA
Meanwhile, instead of hiring professionals at bank-breaking salaries, companies can hire one top gun with training skills and train new graduates who are statisticians/mathematicians.  Companies can build a pool of skilled individuals not only to cater to their present needs but also expand their cloud/analytics departments.

The profile of the IT professional has transformed rapidly in the last decade. They have gone from being a loner who quietly codes away to engineers at the cusp of insight and innovation. The new IT employee, whose DNA includes mobile technologies and social networking, can help enterprises make better business decisions through data-based analysis. What better way to become a market leader?

So, is your company’s hiring strategy ready to address this new war for talent?


1 IDC white paper “Climate Change: Cloud’s Impact on IT Organizations and Staffing.”

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