Many IT leaders expect their budgets to increase in 2016, and the hiring of data analysts will benefit from some of this new-found money.

According to the just-released Q3 IT Reality Check from TEKsystems, nearly half (45 percent) of IT leaders expect budget increases in 2016, with the top four technology trends of 2015 to still grab the largest percentages of spending.

“Most of IT’s budget will be dedicated to the four core areas impacting their organization: security, mobile, cloud, and big data/business intelligence,” Jason Hayman, research manager at TEKsystems told Information Management.

“How much is allocated for data analytics and business intelligence initiatives will depend on the organization,” Hayman notes. “Most data-related projects will focus on gathering deeper insights to help make decisions, but organizations will also leverage data analytics for marketing and sales growth, improving back office performance/efficiencies, rick management and creating new products or services. Which goals they focus on will determine who owns the budget. IT’s spend would most likely be dedicated to data warehouse-related projects to support the goals of the business.”

Not surprisingly, the increased attention on data analytics is fueling an increase in hiring for data professionals, and an increasingly difficult time finding them.

Three skill sets – programmers and developers, security, and software engineers –consistently placed in the top five most difficult positions to fill with exceptional talent throughout three-quarters of 2015, the study notes. Programmers and developers – which were originally forecasted as the most difficult to fill – declined throughout the year, but regained the top spot at the end of September.

“Big data analytics continued its progression, now placing in the top five for the first time. Project managers, architects and business intelligence at some time have placed within the top five during the course of the year,” the study notes.

“As with most IT skills, organizations are having a hard time finding and developing the talent they need,” Hayman continues. “The talent just isn’t available, and/or the organization struggles with identifying and developing the talent they already have to fit their needs. The challenge is magnified for big data skills because not only are the technical skills in short supply, like Hadoop or NoSQL or SAP HANA, etc., but organizations need these types of roles to be problem solvers and creatives who can think through the challenges of data projects and render solutions in innovative ways.”

The study has some good news on the IT delivery front: Heading into 2015, 71 percent of IT leaders were confident in their IT department’s ability to satisfy business demands. “This has remained extremely consistent through the first three quarters of the year. At the end of March, 70 percent were confident, 74 percent at the end of June and 73 percent at the end of September,” the study says.

Still, there remains a disconnect at many organizations between what the business side expects from data analytics and big data, and what IT thinks the business should expect.

“The adage, ‘garbage in, garbage out’, may be overused but it’s a good description of the problem,” Hayman explains. “The business might have more of a romanticized view of the big data trend, seeing it as a magic bullet that will solve all of their problems, generate new revenue streams, improve efficiency and cut costs.”

“IT views big data from more of a realistic perspective. Even once they merge the various forms of unstructured and structured data, they must be confident that the data that went into it was clean and accurate; then they need someone who can actually extract insight and connect all of the dots,” Hayman stresses.

“This of course is where a data scientist or other data modelers or analysts step in, to uncover the relationships within the data and reveal patterns and insight. IT may be able to deliver reporting, but if the business isn’t able to determine what the data means, they’ll find themselves disappointed,” Hayman concludes.

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