The announcement that IBM will open an analytics center in Columbus, Ohio, won't do much to fill the national analytics gap, but it does hold out the promise of a tech boost for that region.
A topic frequently addressed here is the shortfall in trained analytics specialists. The explosion of big-data has enterprises crying out for expertise in collating, cleaning, integrating, and mining the rushing stream of invaluable, real-time information. Top analytics talent, however, remains at a premium, and McKinsey is forecasting that the shortage will get worse.
A recent collaborative report by IBM and the University of Oxford's Saïd Business School underlined the problem. Based on a survey of over 1,000 business and IT professionals worldwide, the report found that the shortage in advanced analytics skills was inhibiting the development of big-data programs:
Fewer than 25% of the survey respondents worldwide said they have the skills and resources to analyse unstructured data, such as text, voice and sensor data. "While the hardware and software in these areas are maturing, the skills are in short supply," the report's authors said.
IBM's Ohio initiative points to one way of addressing the problem.
With a heavy regional focus, the IBM Client Center for Advanced Analytics will partner with Ohio State University, JobsOhio, Information Control Corporation, and other organizations to create an "eco-system" serving the region's business analytics needs. Despite the economic pressures on the state as a whole, Columbus has recently proved a model for agile investment and job growth.
Rather than wait for college curricula to catch up, regional business analytics hubs of this kind might just provide a template for addressing the big-data skills gap. The involvement of the private sector should ensure the relevance of training to actual market needs. Public sector involvement will provide incentives for the center, although the details have yet to be finalized.
Is it too much to imagine a national network of private-public centers focused on developing the skill sets needed not just for business analytics, but for enterprise architecture and other rapidly developing fields? Communities, enterprise, and, of course, vendors all stand to benefit.
— Kim Davis , Community Editor, Internet Evolution