Maybe you think that your company’s biggest Big Data problem is the volume, velocity, variety and variability of data coming at it. Structured and unstructured, social and mobile, generated by everything from your car to your camera to the Runkeeper app on your phone (never mind the traditional sources), just thinking about it is enough to cause an anxiety attack. 

But there’s no need for that, you can relax. We’re living in an era where storage is cheap, whether it’s on premises, off premises or in the cloud. (Yes, the cloud, it’s real, rather than a bunch of fluff as Larry Ellison once tried to make us believe.)

Data processing is becoming faster and far less expensive too.

So what is the big, Big Data problem?

Talent. There aren’t enough people with the education and training required to work with, understand, and make decisions based on the analysis of Big Data.

Until that changes, Big Data can’t have a big impact from a mass market perspective.

The Talent Gap

“We need to get as many people educated (on Big Data) as quickly as possible. Skills gaps are not good for the industry,” says Tom Clancy, Vice President of Education Services at EMC.

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It’s a sentiment that other Big Data vendors such as Cloudera, Hortonworks, WANdisco and MapR -- among others -- are likely to share.

And it’s not only the data scientists and Hadoop engineers that are in short supply; the big guns aren’t Big Data savvy either. Some surveys show that a large majority of them aren’t comfortable having anything beyond a superficial conversation about it. A survey conducted by EMC of over 1,000 IT professionals reveals that only 16% of those polled said that their management team had strong skills in Data Science and Big Data analytics.

A survey conducted by McKinsey yields similar results and a prediction; namely that by 2018 there will be a deficit of 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of Big Data to make effective decisions.

Educating the Next Generation of Big Data Professionals

Big Data vendors aren’t about to sit back and let that happen. “We feel we have a responsibility to close that gap,” says Clancy, and EMC is walking his talk.

Today the Big Data company is unveiling a new line of Big Data Analytics Education Courses for the entire organization. They have built one day and/or 90 minute courses to give executives an overview on Data Science and Big Data Analytics for Business Transformation; there’s also a five day course for up-and-coming Data Scientists, and a whole slew of IT as a service and Cloud Computing courses as well.

You can learn more about them and the associated fees here.

Of course, everyone knows that a real data scientist isn’t made in in five days, or, in most cases, even five years. Add to that, that, up until recently, there haven’t been many formal data scientist programs available at the university level. EMC is working with schools like Bentley and NC State to create such programs according to Clancy.

Cloudera is doing something similar. Last week they announced that they were partnering with universities around the globe to help develop the next generation of Big Data professionals. As part of the Cloudera Academic Partnership (CAP) initiative, university staff and students are invited to download CDH (or the CDH Demo VM), the world’s most deployed, enterprise-level ready Apache Hadoop distribution, and the free edition of Cloudera Manager, designed to simplify the installation, configuration, and performance analysis of your Hadoop cluster (up to 50 nodes).

The company also says that it will provide professors from participating universities discounts for world-class instruction and free training materials to facilitate the inclusion of Apache Hadoop administration and development topics into their academic portfolio.

It is the great hope of companies like Cloudera and EMC to build a paved path for Big Data and Big Data Analytics education; after all, the industry can’t grow unless Enterprises embrace it and reap value from it.