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Data Analytics Tech Opportunities on the Rise

Students interested in a fruitful career as developers have ripe opportunities right now in the fields of data analytics, mobile, cloud, and social business. But within each of those technologies, there are specific needs that vary by geographical region and other factors. For example, business analytics has a much higher level of interest in the BRIC countries--Brazil, Russia, India, and China--than it does in the United States, perhaps because the latter has already reached a level of saturation or is ahead of the others.

On the mobile front, while the United States and Russia are busy building mobile infrastructure and ranked the extension of mobile capabilities high on the list for focus, India and China are occupying themselves building applications to take advantage of the infrastructure and ranked the creation of "industry specific applications" most important.

Those are a few of the findings from an IBM-sponsored survey, "2011 IBM Tech Trends Report," which questioned 4,000 IT professionals in 93 countries and 25 industries. The report is designed to provide IT and business professionals a roadmap of the technologies and skills that will be in greatest demand in the next two years. Among the key findings:

  • Nearly nine out of 10 respondents reported they consider open source and open standard technologies to be key in the future of application development.
  • During the next two years more than three-quarters of organizations will partake of cloud computing in some form, according to the survey; currently, only four in 10 companies do so. Within the category of cloud work, developing new applications for the cloud will outpace virtualization by a single percent (25 percent versus 24 percent) as the top cloud activity.
  • Slightly more than half of respondents said that cloud computing adoption is tied to their organizations' mobile strategies. Google's Android beats out Apple's iOS for the iPhone and iPad as the planned mobile development platform, 70 percent to 49 percent. Windows 7 and Blackberry OS trail in interest with 35 percent and 25 percent, respectively.
  • Cultural differences among countries are playing a role in adoption of social business--the use of networks of people to "create business value." For instance, whereas India and the United States are seeing strong adoption of the use of social business (57 percent and 45 percent, respectively), Russia is lagging with only a 19 percent adoption rate, the report indicated.

The business segments where the need is greatest for development talent and skills in the four areas IBM explored in its survey are education and healthcare, following by financial services, life sciences, and government. The appetite in education, according to the report, could be driven in particular by use of the technology used in IBM Watson. Watson is the artificial intelligence computer system that answered natural language questions earlier this year on Jeopardy.

"By tapping into Watson's technology, I believe teachers will be able to deliver a targeted approach to teaching their students," stated Zhihua Wei, a lecturer for the Department of Computer Science and Technology at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. "They will have the ability to cultivate skills and customize their teaching programs to address each student's strengths and weaknesses."

"The results are clear. Mobile computing, cloud computing, social business, and business analytics have gone beyond niche status and are now part of any modern organization's core IT focus," said IBM's Jim Corgel, general manager of ISV and Developer Relations. "IT professionals who can develop the skills needed to work across these technologies will be ready to meet growing business demand in the coming years."

IBM is making the raw data results from its survey available for independent analysis in an SPSS file format. Analysis requires the use of SPSS Statistics, which IBM also makes available as a 14-day trial download.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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