Big data, big bucks

Love maths? Or are you an engineering student with a passion for data and technology? Then consider a career in business analytics, says Kavitha Shanmugam

  • Published 9.11.15
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While completing his MTech at VIT University, Vellore in Tamil Nadu, Sachin Katarki wanted to specialise in an emerging field of information technology. "I wanted do learn something new and different, and I found Hadoop, an open source software framework, quite exciting and unconventional," he recalls. So he approached a Bangalore-based technology company, Trendwise Analytics. After an aptitude test and a telephonic interview he bagged an internship at the company.

During the internship, Katarki not only gained expertise in Hadoop but learnt how to analyse huge volumes of data (big data). He discovered how zillions of bits of data pour into millions of computers across the world from every conceivable direction. For instance, superstore retail chain WalMart handles more than a million customer transactions each hour and imports those into databases estimated to contain more than 2.5 petabytes (a petabyte is 1,000,000 gigabytes/GB) of data. And Facebook is deluged with more than 350 million photo uploads and posts from 1.32 billion users.

After five months, 25-year old Katarki got absorbed by the company as a big data developer and has not looked back, knowing only too well that a few years in this field will easily fetch him Rs 9 lakh a year ( see box).

Like Katarki, many young people are gravitating to the rapidly emerging field of big data, crucial technology that helps in processing voluminous data faster and in a cost effective manner. Most companies-such as those in the retail, telecom, healthcare, airlines or social media industries - want to adopt this technology to make business decisions based on the data ('data driven' decisions) rather than purely on intuition.

"This makes the opportunities in this field huge for students today," says Mohan Kumar, co-founder and CEO of Trendwise Analytics, Katarki's employers, a big data services company with a branch in Chicago. "Google is in the forefront of the business that analyses the behaviour of millions of its users. US-based Palantir is another company that does deep data analytics to provide intelligence to federal intelligence agencies," says Abir Barua, People Orchestrator at Crayon Data, a big data solutions provider based in Singapore.

If not standalone big data companies, many IT majors like Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant Technologies and Tata Consultancy Services are roping in big data trained specialists or training their staff in this technology.

Gaurav Vohra, CEO, Jigsaw Academy, an online school for data analysts headquartered in Bangalore, believes big data is the next growth driver in the IT services industry. "IT majors are re-skilling their manpower in big data technology. The demand is high in stand-alone companies like, for example, New Sigma that specialise in big data analysis and also from e-commerce companies," says Vohra.

Admitting that big data is one area where "lots of jobs" are expected, Rajeeva Karandikar, director, Chennai Mathematical Institute, declares, "What is not clear is how students should prepare themselves for jobs in this new area." He answers his own question by advising students to study basic statistics along with statistics software, say "R", or specific tools and frameworks to deal with large chunks of data (such as Hadoop).

Karandikar is right because few full time or on campus courses on big data exist in India ( see box).

However, there are plenty of online big data courses. Says Vohra of Jigsaw Academy, ""Our courses are meant for IT professionals who have little or no knowledge of big data. We teach them how to deal with big data, make sense of it and our focus is on how to generate insights on big data."

Intellipaat, a Jaipur-based online big data course provider, which provides Hadoop training, says that its video tutorials are created by industry experts with hands-on exercises and project work. "The basic skills required to join these online courses are knowledge of Java or a computing background," says Diwakar Chittora, founder of Intellipaat. Engineers, maths students and those "passionate about data" have an added advantage in the field.

"You require basic programming knowledge and a willingness to learn to get into this field," says Biswajit Panigrahi. Panigrahi, 28, did a telecommunications engineering degree from Odisha and worked for a number of companies such as Wipro and Accenture before landing in a data analytics start-up in Calcutta called INS Analytics. "I love analytics and technology and I find that combination in big data," he says. He believes big data is here to stay and will evolve further as more businesses and governments use it.

Where you learn

Online Courses: Jigsaw Academy, Simply Learn, Coursera, Edureka, Intellipaat

On campus courses: IIM-Bangalore (certificate programme in analytics), IIM-Lucknow ( certificate programme in business analytics), IIM-Calcutta (executive programme in business analytics), MICA, Ahmedabad (postgraduate certificate programme in research and data analytics), Praxis Business School, Calcutta (postgraduate programme in business analytics), Calcutta Business School (postgraduate certificate in business analytics)

What you earn

Entry level: Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh a year

Mid-level: Rs 6 lakh to Rs 15 lakh a year

Senior level: Rs 15 lakh and above a year

Where you work

Top IT and business consultancy companies, retail giants, banking, insurance, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, social media

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