How Future Workers Will Tame Big Data
By Tracey Wilen-Daugenti
Are you ready for Big Data? You’re probably adding to it every day, via online purchases or the apps and GPS on your smartphone. Gathering customer and market data has gotten cheaper and swifter, but has also opened the information floodgates, threatening to drown companies with information before they can extract value from it.
When it comes time to turn Big Data into big plans, companies will seek people skilled in data-intensive work: crafting presentations and predictions from raw data. It’s one of seven forecasts made in The Future of Work, a report by the Institute for the Future for Apollo Research about the forces reshaping the employment landscape.
As data-intensive work becomes part of more jobs, workers will become programmers, even if not in the traditional sense. They’ll understand how metadata—identifiers applied to electronic files, such as Twitter hashtags, blog post categories, or keywords on a Flickr photo—will help them sort and index information. They’ll learn to navigate the murky waters of privacy as more precise analytical tools reveal users’ accidental or deliberate TMI moments. And they’ll use customizable smartphone apps to spot patterns that let them respond from any location to problems before they anger customers or harm their organization.
Informatics provide a way for Big Data to make its big debut in slide decks, ads, and social media. For example, Visual.ly is a community of self identified marketing gurus, data nerds, and design junkies, where users convert drab numbers into attractive graphic narratives, then push them automatically to their social network audiences. It’s just one way in which creative media tools will permit data-intensive workers to merge the digital realm of Big Data with the real world, so we can take full advantage of the next Big Idea.
Tracey Wilen-Daugenti is Vice President and Managing Director at the Apollo Research Institute.