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Predictions for data professionals in 2023?

If our experience of the 2020s so far has taught us anything, it’s that the future is hard to predict. While many of the decade’s events have been, as we’re often told, unprecedented, there’s one overarching area we can all agree will continue to flourish in the year ahead — data. Here, Jonathan Hedger, co-founder of the UK’s only data analytics jobs platform, OnlyDataJobs, outlines his predictions for the data job market in 2023.

article by Jonathan Hedger, Founder – OnlyDataJobs

If our experience of the 2020s so far has taught us anything, it’s that the future is hard to predict. While many of the decade’s events have been, as we’re often told, unprecedented, there’s one overarching area we can all agree will continue to flourish in the year ahead — data. Here is some predictions for the data job market in 2023.

Before delving into what those working in data analytics can expect in the next twelve months, it’s worth reflecting on the industry as a whole. One thing is for certain — appetite for data-driven decisions will not wane.

In Gartner’s own Top ten strategic technology trends for 2023, we see three clear themes. First, organisations seek to optimise IT systems for increased reliability and data insight, maintaining the integrity of AI systems. Next, businesses are looking to scale their vertical offerings through heightened connectivity across all areas. And finally, the predictions show a thirst for pioneering change for both employee and user experience, with the reinvention of current business models.

Ultimately, businesses want to see real, connected, data-driven change across all areas of their offering. What may be lacking, however, are the data professionals that can incite that change. Casting a glimpse over another set of predictions, this time from IDC, it pre-empts that, through 2024, shortcomings in skills creation and training by IT leaders will prevent 65 per cent of businesses from achieving full value from automation, cloud and data investments.

The big tech boom
A report, published by the Royal Society in 2019, claimed that in the five previous years demand for data scientists across industry had increased by 200 per cent. Looking at the market today, we can see demand for those skills hasn’t dwindled. What having that talent could enable, however, has shifted into something much bigger.

2023 is going to usher in a new age of data-led strategy in Big Tech. But surely Big Tech is already data-led? Well, not quite. Gut feel led to Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, as did Meta’s attempt to create a metaverse. However, a relocation of strategy into the hands of scientists, not just adventurous CEOs, will help Big Tech avoid those well-documented hiccups we’ve seen in 2022.

Really, the key will be getting the right talent in the right places. Forrester’s 2023 European outlook claims it takes 69 days to fill tech roles, compared to 41 days for the overall market. That time adds up, but if businesses can prioritise hiring data experts, we’ll see companies of all sizes realise the predictions laid out by Gartner.

More data professionals will help spread ‘big tech’ across ‘small tech’. Essentially, the insights and advancements we associate with Silicon Valley will create a bigger Silicon Globe where every business feels the benefits of data. The big players will probably feel it first, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a wealth of potential left for smaller companies with more modest budgets. They’ll just need the right hiring strategy.

Right people, right place
But how will hiring a data expert look in 2023? For many, flexibility will be key to navigating uncertain times. We’re likely to see a rise in contract work, as reflected in the CIPD’s Resourcing and Talent Planning Report 2022, which reveals that 63 per cent of organisations aren’t looking beyond the next twelve months when planning their current and future workforce requirements.

While businesses may realise they need a data expert, the investment of committing to one long-term may be too much. It’s likely, therefore, that we’ll see more openings for temporary work, to support on smaller scale projects. This will give businesses that want to digitalise, but lack the resources of those Big Tech giants, the opportunity to make real business change on a limited budget. For candidates, it will also provide ample opportunity for them to gain experience across a breadth of data applications.

In terms of who’s being hired, a number of required skills stand out. On OnlyDataJobs, we’re seeing SQL, Python and R as the top three programming languages request by hiring companies. In terms of software, it’s AWS, Azure and Tableau. But demand for hard skills won’t be the only thing we’ll see in 2023.

While businesses are increasingly recognising the opportunities that data and analytics bring to their operations, data professionals have the challenging task of turning data into actionable insights that the rest of a company can understand. To do this requires well-developed soft skills, which brings us to one of the most in-demand skills a data expert should possess.

It’s hard to know what to predict in 2023, but one thing is for sure. As businesses wake up to the value of having data experts in-house, we’ll continue to see how they bring about business transformation. It’s not just the tech giants that will benefit, having the right hiring strategy means any organisation can reap the benefits of data.

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