Today’s demand for big data talent reflects a recurring theme that happens whenever a new valuable technology becomes available. Companies face the conundrum of figuring out how to quickly capitalize on the latest technology to gain business advantage during a time when a limited supply of skilled talent exists in the marketplace.
Internally, the tug of war begins because marketing, operations and customer service all push to leverage these technologies as quickly as possible, while IT tries to figure out how to get it done. The business ends up with two options: develop the expertise internally or partner with an outside resource.
Build the Expertise
The conditioned response is to invest in hiring new talent with the needed expertise or training teams to capitalize on the new technology. We, however, would argue that choosing to develop the technical expertise internally is the wrong approach for most businesses.
Recruiting scarce big data talent is a tall order, and it can cost corporations precious time and hefty compensation packages. McKinsey reports that the United States is facing a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with expertise in analyzing large amounts of data and 1.5 million managers and analysts with the skills to understand and make decisions based on big data analysis.
Recruiting a team for big data is expensive and takes significant time to onboard, train and maximize new capabilities effectively. The team can be invaluable once they are fully engaged and bring a greater return on investment for your company. Unfortunately, far too often, a team member or members can be lured away before delivering the hoped-for value.
Companies often believe they can train in-house teams of employees in new technologies rather than recruiting new employees, but this can come with a significant “cost of discovery.“ Members of the team typically learn by trial and error slowing progress and often causing frustration on several levels of the organization. The company will also invest substantial resources to build up employees’ expertise while losing valuable time.
It could take 12 to 18 months to see tangible business benefits if a company goes down the path of building a new capability internally, whether by recruiting new talent or training a team in-house. By the time the capacity is built and value is gathered from the team, the competitive differentiation is significantly diminished or even lost.
Buy the Capability, But Buy Smart
We encourage companies to consider choosing not to fight the big data talent battle. Companies can leverage the skills, tools and infrastructure of industry leading partners to create an outcome-based relationship, dramatically reducing time to market to capture the sought after competitive advantage. This allows companies to gain a dynamic competitive advantage that returns business results quickly before the advantage disappears.
Business results can typically be realized in less than six months by leveraging a service provider to significantly reduce time to market. However, the key is to buy smart. This means understanding what skillsets you need and at what capacity. You should hire for outcomes versus output—keeping the team focused on the value proposition. It is also critical to clearly understand the ebb and flow of your department and partnering with a team that can quickly flex to meet the demand.
Bottom line: time to market is critical. Waiting for supply and demand to come into balance often means losing sought after competitive advantage. In our experience buying capacity is the better, faster route when you buy smart.