The data career marketplace is ‘hot’ right now and competition amongst data professionals is fierce. Not that many years ago, data scientist and data engineer job postings were difficult to fill and those with training and some experience were sure to get noticed. That has changed over time. The need for more education, more certifications, and more sophisticated skills to create competitive data products and services has created a more rugged and challenging career journey for data professionals.
Google is full of ads for training programs, certifications, and bootcamps. Companies and colleges want to profit from the data career craze, and you must take care to not let these profit-seeking messages drive your career search. You want to find opportunities to make more money, do more interesting things, and progress in your career. You won’t find those opportunities by following the commercial advertisements. Once these ads are mainstream, those job markets are already saturated.
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The way to find new opportunities is to look to the future. Don’t let yourself be trapped by the hype of the present. As technology and data trends constantly evolve, opportunities will always arise. But you won’t find leading-edge opportunities in Google ads. You’ll find them by becoming one of those inquisitive individuals who see connections, observe industry needs, and see potential in the convergence of separate but related fields. These are the people most able to distinguish themselves from the crowd.
Why is Innovation so Critical When Seeking New Data Careers?
The need for continuous innovation is a driving force in many industries as organizations navigate changing marketplaces. They try to be leaders in optimizing technology and analytics to drive digital transformation and gain or retain their business advantage. They often look to other companies and try to replicate their successful models with hope that profitability will follow within their own organization. This is how conventional thinking works — you cling to what you know, the status quo.
People often use the same process when seeking new careers. They want to find new opportunities that allow them to grow in their careers. But they fail to embrace innovation as a powerful part of job searching. They struggle to break away from conventional thinking— a losing proposition that locks them into career status quo.
As part of my work, I speak with a lot of people who want to move to a new career stage but are uncertain about the path forward. Some are already data professionals while others are working in different areas of IT. They have existing skills, but don’t how to leverage those skills for their future.
How can you create a data career convergence opportunity?
I have always believed that good examples are the fastest path to understanding so let’s look at a client of mine who is struggling with the same career decisions as many others.
Andrew wants to transition his career and explore the possibilities. He has worked for a small company for over 5 years and feels that he is no longer being challenged in his work. He is concerned that his skills have stagnated. He is ready for a change. But a change to what?
Andrew is currently working for a small technology solutions provider and is well grounded in content management (CM). He works with clients to implement CM solutions and helps them understand how to manage and access their content across all their digital channels. He wants a change and is beginning to understand that he can’t wait for someone to come knocking at his door – he needs to create his own opportunities.
As a first step, let’s take a moment to look at the data careers marketplace and how content management fits in. Up until now CM has been managed separately and distinctly, but in the not-to-distant future we will begin to see the convergence of content management and data management.
From the data management side, we have mostly focused on “big data” in traditional digital forms — the stuff we can get from files …JSON/BSON, etc. We have shied away from image, video, and audio being connected with more traditional data. So, content management and data management are treated as separate disciplines. When we bring “data” and “content” together it increases the value of both.
Think of the Possibilities – Opportunities are everywhere!
- A manufacturing company’s data is consolidated — even integrated — with CAD drawings.
- Healthcare providers combining conventional data with medical images and image mining.
- Transport and logistics companies that combine images of delivered goods with delivery records, routing data, text messaging, and email.
- Online retailers combining descriptive text, images, video, and audio to present products, along with transactional data for order processing.
Some of these are already being done by leading companies, and others are looking to follow. Others are emerging trends. And there are many use cases yet to emerge.
In Andrew’s case, he already has deep experience in content management, but lacks the data management skills to move forward. We started by working together to develop a learning plan that included the education he needs to fill knowledge gaps — data quality, data consolidation, and data integration. Once he had enhanced his skills, he volunteered to work on a data systems project — a perfect opportunity for him. With a lot of hard work and dedication he’ll not only contribute to the project and also gain new knowledge along the way.
Those technology professionals who can see connections in the convergence of different disciples and can build bridges will be the next hot talent in information management. Marketplace and consumer demands are evolving, and the industry is rich with opportunities.
Be unconventional and think about the possibilities.
Network architecture and cyber forensics?
Data engineers (who work almost exclusively in analytics) combining their skills with application architecture?