Big data will continue to be the big information technology trend in 2016, as IT leaders say the number one area that deserves more of their budget investments is analytics and business intelligence.

Despite all the attention being paid to IT security professionals, data analysts and data scientists are also expected to be the most difficult talent to find in the job market in 2016 as well.

Those are among the conclusions of a majority of IT leaders polled by the Society for Information Management for its 2016 IT Trends Study. Getting an early jump on New Year’s projections, SIM found that data analytics continues its dominance in the IT investments competition. Analytics and business intelligence has remained a top three IT investment now for well over a decade, and in the number one spot for seven straight years.

“Organizations recognize the value of improved decision making in improving functional and financial performance; thus investments in technologies that increase the availability, usability, and value of the organization’s data assets is not unexpected,” the SIM study notes.

Asked to rank the most difficult to find technical skills or capabilities, 46 percent of IT leaders cited analytics/business intelligence/big data as the number one skills group. That doesn’t bode well for hiring managers in 2016, as those same skills were cited as the number two most important skills or capabilities needed by the organization (cited by 47 percent). Only security/cybersecurity was ranked higher (cited by 51 percent).

Not surprisingly, those two skills areas also took top honors as the most worrisome areas of IT investments in 2016, with security/cybersecurity taking the top spot, and analytics/business intelligence a close second.

“Given the long standing place of Analytics at or near the top of the largest investment list, it is noteworthy that IT leaders still find it particularly worrisome and believe that it needs even more attention and investment,” the SIM study says. “ This points to the importance and high stakes associated with these technologies. Some concern may also be related to substantial non-technical investments, such as the recruitment and retention of scarce data scientists, analysts, and architects, as well as the training and investment required to develop true data-driven decision making.”

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