agile programBig data analytics can provide a significant number of benefits for businesses who want their strategies and decisions to be backed up by cold, hard data.

As a result, the market for big data analytics has grown rapidly over the past few years — a trend that’s expected to hold through 2020 and the foreseeable future.

However, despite this enthusiasm, not everyone has a positive view of the technology. Some fear that big data analytics, especially in combination with other tech like artificial intelligence, could start costing workers their jobs in the near future — if it hasn’t already.

Here’s how the growing use of big data analytics is affecting the job market — and whether industry experts think big data will kill jobs or create them.

How Big Data’s Adoption Has Changed the Job Market

Research so far shows that the adoption of big data analysis, while widespread, hasn’t had earth-changing impacts on overall employment.

According to research from MIT and IBM, the biggest change over the past few years hasn’t been in overall employment — but instead in what workers are being asked to do. From 2010 to 2017, the average number of tasks performed by each employee decreased, likely due to easily-automated tasks — like credential validation and scheduling — being shifted onto new programs and technology.

This decrease has resulted in a gradual and subtle employment decline across fields whose job requirements can be easily automated — like clerical, admin and support work. However, the change has generally been small and slow enough to give both employers and employees time to adapt.

At the same time, soft skills became increasingly valuable. Those working in knowledge- and design-focused industries saw significant wage gains despite also seeing the number of tasks they needed to perform decrease.

If these patterns hold, it’s likely that big data analysis will gradually change the work that we do. For some, that may require a change in employment. For others, the big data revolution may mean a lower work burden and increasing wages.

Big Data’s Rise Will Probably Create New Jobs

Something that will almost certainly be true in the near future is that workers with big data skills will be in even higher demand. Like other high-demand tech skills — cybersecurity, AI, IoT networking and so on — it’s likely that companies will want more and more workers with big data expertise year after year.

According to data from LinkedIn, job openings for data scientists grew by 56% in 2019 — part of why the job was listed as the website’s Most Promising Job of the year.

The growth of job openings has outpaced the number of workers entering the job market — good for big data professionals and a little tougher for companies who have needed extra help in recruiting professionals. Also, as businesses come to rely more and more on data, similar trends — where there are consistently more openings than professionals — are appearing in a few related tech fields, like cybersecurity and software development.

Big data technology may have an answer for this problem as well. Some staffing companies are experimenting with big data staffing solutions that may help companies sort through applications and find the professionals they need faster — and possibly cheaper, too.

Big Data May Reshape How We Work

As companies move to adopt new technologies, including big data analytics, some workers may be lost in the churn. It doesn’t seem likely, based on how the job market has changed so far, that these new technologies will cause major shifts in employment rates, however — no matter how innovative or disruptive the tech is.

In the future, companies will still need employees to get work done. How that work is performed may change and the overall amount of work may decrease, but there’s no evidence right now that suggests a coming collapse of the job market.

The growth of big data analytics will also probably be good for data scientists, especially those who have strong backgrounds in big data. Based on the growth of the big data analytics market in the past few years, along with the rising number of job openings, it’s likely that demand for these skills will continue to increase in the near future.

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