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By | Paul Kunert 17th September 2014 16:26

Big Data's being held back by little talent, says Huawei head techie

Solutions? 'I don't know - but SIs could help'

Big data projects – seen by some as the tech industry’s latest snake oil and others as a potentially valuable tool to dig up fresh information – is being held back by the lack of data scientists for hire.

This is according to Ron Raffensperger, Huawei’s chief techie for the IT product line that sits within its Data Centre Solutions Sales Department.

“It is clearly an area that is ripe for a lot of innovation, there are a lots of start-ups trying to figure out how to help people do big data things without data scientists, automating the data scientist part of it, but that is not a very easy thing to do,” he tells us.

So what’s the answer? “I don’t know,” he replies candidly.

“I think that businesses are struggling with this, we are seeing a lot of the large system integrator type organisations that are establishing practices. Most are doing it in a vertical fashion”.

Banking seems to be one area where SIs are charging their data boffins to learn about the sector, banking terms and put together frameworks that can be applied to different organisations in the field.

Huawei, along with many of the major tech companies, builds hardware and software systems designed to promote analytics and other areas of big data, so have a vested interest in skill generation.

The Chinese firm’s FusionInsight platform is designed to provide the core infrastructure for SIs to the uncover gold in the data sets. The product is new to Europe and as such there are no deployments to reference.

Raffenspurger told us it has bagged customers in China including some banks, and is talking to a number of financial institutions in Europe that he was unable to name. He admitted deployments are unlikely until late this year or early next.

“In general banks in the West don’t have huge programming staff any more, that belongs to the SIs, so the work we are doing with the large SIs with big data is probably how it will first show up in [UK] banks.”

Data scientists can earn up to $175k a year in compensation and contractors can pull in up to $200 an hour.

HP reckons one solution to the data scientists dearth could lie with distributors; the vendor told us earlier this year it is talking to partners about pooling resources across a number of resellers to mitigate the costs.

But resellers may not want to share the resource with rivals and some in the channel feel it is likely that big data will remain the domain of the largest SIs. ®

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