If you are anything like me you will have been spending most of your free time over the last few weeks glued to the World Cup. It has been one of the most exciting tournaments in years; whether it is the sublime runs of Neymar, the superb finishing of Columbia’s James Rodriguez, or the wonder that is Lionel Messi, there is something to admire in every match. Lionel Messi, arguably the best player in the world, was recently the subject of a fascinating article on the data journalism website FiveThirtyEight. The article, entitled ‘The Impossible Messi,’ did a statistical analysis of his performances in every game since 2010. The author analysed everything; goals per game, assists per game, dribbling success, pass completion, shooting efficiency, and many, many more statistics. The level of detail and the sheer volume of data analysed was astonishing. It essentially provided a touch-by-touch analysis of Messi’s performances, compared him to the best players in football, and found that by almost every conceivable statistical measure Messi outperformed his fellow professionals; and by a considerable margin.

The ‘Messi’ article aptly highlights the rapidly growing importance of data analysis in the world today. Right across the business world, in every industry, from pharmaceutical manufacturing to international finance, managers are exploring the ways in which data analysis, or ‘Big Data,’ can help them improve the efficiency of their operations and increase their profits. According to the EU, big data is growing at 40% annually, seven times faster than the rest of the ICT sector. The market for big data technology and services is expected to reach $16.9bn globally in 2015 and will create hundreds of thousands of jobs in Europe.

The Irish government has also recognised this potential, funding new research centres and supporting the creation of new data analytics courses at 3rd level, to take advantage of this opportunity. INSIGHT and CAEDAR are two of the most important research centres. INSIGHT specialises in everything from machine learning and data mining, to optimisation and decision analytics, and has over 30 industry partners. CAEDAR, launched in March 2013, focuses on applied analytics and works with companies such as Dell, Accenture and HP, among others.  There has also been a vital increase in ICT graduate output. Graduates with level 8 degrees have doubled since 2012, and enrolments in ICT courses continue to rise. The government has also provided numerous conversion courses through Springboard to help meet growing industry demand. Graduates with a Master’s degree or a PhD are even more sought after, and several new postgraduate courses have been rolled out in 2013, with more to be introduced in 2014. Companies have already been investing in data analytics in Ireland, with the likes of EMC, Qualtrics, Quantcast, iMosphere, Google, and Facebook, all making investments in the last 18 months. The government anticipates that there could be as many as 30,000 job openings through to 2020, and is doing everything in its power to ensure that there are enough graduates to fill these positions.

The potential for Big Data is clearly vast. Graduates with qualifications in maths, statistics or computer science have tremendous opportunities to establish a career for themselves anywhere in the world. I would strongly recommend to anyone with the right skills to pursue a career in this area.

Niall Murray

Managing Director

Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services