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TMCNet:  Software firms face shortage of skilled engineers

[February 14, 2013]

Software firms face shortage of skilled engineers

MUMBAI, Feb 14, 2013 (Mint - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- India's biggest software firms looking for more business from areas such as big data and analytics are facing a shortage of skilled engineers to execute these projects.


For instance, the country has only 50,000 engineers capable of undertaking such projects when the demand is for at least five times that, according to recruitment firm Heidrick and Struggles India Pvt. Ltd.

Big data refers to solutions that help clients sift through vast amounts of user information, identify patterns and develop new models or tweak existing ones to improve efficiency and increase revenue. Top outsourcing customers such as retailer Target Corp. and Citigroup are increasingly looking for solutions in these areas. According to consulting firm KPMG, the market for big data will be worth $206.6 billion by 2016, from around $109 billion in 2012.

As Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) and Infosys Ltd push to increase the proportion of fresh business from big data, cloud computing and analytics, they've come to realize that they need to train their staff and even look for specialized skills. Cloud computing is the use of shared computing resources through the Internet.

"We need a lot of data scientists now. We have a lot of knowledge of the many customers we work with like manufacturing companies where machines are producing a lot of data," said N. Chandrasekaran, CEO and managing director of India's largest software exporter TCS. "How do you work with clients to collate all this data and make sense of this data Now there are opportunities to create new platforms where there is real-time flow of data." A research report by Gartner Inc. in October predicted that worldwide big data demand will reach 4.4 million jobs by 2015 globally. Only one-third of these jobs will be filled and this proportion of unfilled roles will be slightly higher in India, it said.

To manage this and address the growing need, some IT companies are recruiting a large number of statisticians and mathematicians who are being trained in-house on the necessary software tools.

Big data itself is becoming a priority investment for chief investment officers (CIOs) deciding on their IT budgets.

A study by global advisory firm Zinnov Management Consulting Pvt. Ltd published on 7 February said, "CIOs continue to invest in business analytics with high uptake of big data within manufacturing, energy and utility, media and marketing verticals. Business intelligence and big data is of highest priority for over 60% CIOs" surveyed by Zinnov.

Companies are taking the education tie-up route to maintain a steady flow of talent in big data analytics.

"To slice and dice data from an understanding of the customer point of view is more difficult than just its technology," said Ganesh Natarajan, vice-chairman and CEO of Zensar Technologies Ltd. "We work with institutes who have designed special business intelligence courses for us." Other companies that are including big data in their curriculum in tie-ups with institutes include IBM India Pvt. Ltd, SAP India Pvt. Ltd and Wipro Ltd.

"There are many ongoing assignments with our clients to identify and recruit the best candidates. In this space, companies typically look for two streams of talent: one, candidates who can develop tools and platforms -- SaaS (software as a service) and, two, candidates who are qualified to use the tools and platforms to analyse unstructured data," said, E. Balaji, CEO and managing director of human resources service provider Randstad India Ltd.

"We have access to a large pool of statisticians, mathematicians and technology specialists to meet the recruitment targets," Balaji said. "We take a consultative approach with our clients and suggest candidates with the closest match and those who can be shaped for the specific role. A qualified statistician can be easily trained in SaaS or in any other business intelligence tool." The highest requirement is for professionals who understand both big data analytics technology and the business application of the resultant insights in ways that can benefit clients, said Sid Deshpande, senior research analyst, Gartner India Research and Advisory Services Pvt. Ltd.

"In big data analytics, the ones who are successful are those who can bridge IT and business (rather) than just IT specialists," he said. "Globally, we are seeing big data professionals are increasingly techno-functional, having equal emphasis on technology and business leading to innovative roles." Some of the new job titles that go with this role include information leader, data steward, chief data officer, chief information manager, information architect and so on, indicating that pure IT specialists are not enough this space.

India has a strong talent pool of pure IT specialists with expertise in big data technologies but those with a business focus are fewer than globally.

"In more mature markets like the US, a lot of these roles have been filled by those strong in IT and can bridge gap between IT and business," Deshpande said.

C.K. Guruprasad, principal, Heidrick & Struggles, said IT companies are searching for Indians with such experience overseas and who are looking to come back home. In India itself, there are many organizations that have set up captives for companies globally for big data analytics.

"At (the) entry level, there is enough talent considering the engineering graduates that pass out," he said. When it comes to senior-level talent, it is limited." Randstad predicts that in the next two-three years, India will account for 20-25% of the worldwide demand for analytics and cloud computing talent. But India will trail behind the US and China as those two countries combined will account for 70-75% of the talent demand.

___ (c)2013 the Mint (New Delhi) Visit the Mint (New Delhi) at www.livemint.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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