The explosion of technology innovation has created a wealth of opportunity for businesses to leverage data and analytics. Both are making operations more efficient and effective.

However, it’s also lead to another issue: There aren’t enough people trained in how to put the data science and business analytics to use in making these innovations useful to business.

A 2017 survey from Inmarsat found that businesses around the world are facing a shortage of such workers. Among the findings was the fact that 46 percent of global businesses are facing a deficit when it comes to employees with the needed skills in data science and business analytics.

That’s a challenge for them. But it’s also good news for those seeking to earn an online Master of Science in Data Science or Master of Science in Business Analytics. The job market for graduates from such programs is better than ever.

Survey Findings for IoT Potential

In creating the survey, Inmarsat spoke with business leaders both in the United States and around the world. The survey specifically focused on the potential for the Internet of Things (IoT). This relatively new technology requires expertise in data science and analytics.

The following are among the survey findings.

  • 76 percent of those surveyed need additional senior, strategic level staff with skills in IoT
  • 72 percent reported a shortage those with management-level experience in IoT
  • 80 percent lacked IoT skills that ensure that the solutions work as originally intended.
  • 60 percent lacked staff with the cybersecurity experience needed to handle the large datasets generated by IoT.

While the numbers are new, the issue isn’t. Many studies and media reports over the past few years have found that while technology and data are opening the door to process improvement for many companies, they also lack the skilled workers to put these advantages into play.

Data Scientist Shortage

Last year, IBM predicted that the need for data scientists would increase 28 percent by 2020. That translates into about 700,000 new job openings.

Overall, that would result in 2.7 million jobs for data professionals in the United States by 2020.

Massachusetts is one of the leading states in employing technology workers, particularly in the area of computer programming and software development.

Data scientist jobs exist across all industries. But IBM found the demand is especially high in finance, insurance, professional services and information technology.

However, a shortage of qualified workers continues. IBM found that job listings for data-related jobs stay open an average of 45 days. This is five times longer than the average for other types of jobs.

The highest-paying jobs – into six figures for annual salary – are those with expertise in MapReduce, Apache Pig, Hive and Hadoop.

To meet the demand for data science and business analytics workers, many schools have taken a variety of approaches. At Merrimack College, the master’s programs in data science and business analytics have been designed to ensure that graduates are valued employees from the moment they earn their degree.

They have created the curriculum using input from both experts in the School of Science and Engineering as well as the college’s Girard School of Business. The idea is to produce graduates who not only know understand the complexities of data science but also how it can be applied to improve business operations.

Clearly, the demand for those with a data science or business analytics degree is high. For those who want to enter a career where they will be valued and work on the cutting edge of technology as it applies to business, there has never been a better time.