Businesses lack skills in big data, says SAS expert

By Danny Palmer
11 Sep 2012 View Comments
Big data

Businesses aren't able to properly process big data because IT employees lack the relevant skills.

That is according to a report sponsored by business software provider SAS, entitled Big Data: Lessons from Leaders, which suggests while executives recognise the importance of big data, 41 per cent believe their organisation lacks personnel with the correct knowledge to realise its full potential.

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"The single barrier to unlocking the data that derived in those organisations was the lack of skills that existed, and actually inertia was created through people not having the necessary skills to drive some value out of the data," said Mark Wilkinson, managing director for SAS UK & Ireland, speaking at the launch of the report.

"This is a problem that we're seeing in our clients, that there are a lack of skills in organisations to help drive the use of that data."

Wilkinson suggested education is a key factor in enabling companies to properly realise the potential of big data.

"We're very concerned about the development of the necessary skills and we as a company are working very hard with UK universities," he said, adding that driving interest in science and maths in schools also forms an integeral part of the process.

"We're also looking at influencing grass-roots education in schools through SAS Curriculum Pathways with 158 schools signed up already in the UK, and that's designed to help drive an interest in the more complex subjects such as science and maths. When they go to university they've then got the options of doing degrees which are relevant to the issues that exist for things like big data," Wilkinson added.

Speaking to Computing, SAS director of marketing Richard Kellett explained more about the company's initiatives to improve education.

"For quite a number of years, SAS has offered to students in what we would consider to be degree-level education access to SAS via a cloud for free. Anywhere in the world if you're a student you can sign up to using SAS on an SAS cloud for nothing, for the purposes of your education," he said.

"On top of that is curriculum pathways and it actually takes you out of what SAS does into the more general world of online education. We offer it against the UK syllabus, for free, for anyone who wants to sign up from age 12 through to A-Level, in the areas of English, science and maths," Kellett concluded.

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