How to get big data expertise on a budget

Sometimes staffing a big data professional can be out of reach, but these alternatives have proven to be worthy replacements.

Current Job Listings

Big data professionals are in big demand, with the need for data processing outpacing the supply of trained data analysts on the job market. As a result, salaries have shot upward, putting them out of the reach of many businesses that don’t have the funds to dedicate to a full-time data scientist. Businesses fully realize that if they want to remain competitive they need access to the same up-to-date data that their competitors have, but are in a fix about how to get there.

Fortunately, you don’t have to pay six figures to have data at your fingertips. Here are a few options that can keep you competitive without breaking your budget.

Find a beginner

Data analytics is a relatively new profession, although statisticians have been extracting and studying data for decades. Finding an affordable and talented data scientist may be as simple as thinking beyond the traditional wording. Although there are different types of data scientists, a large part of the job involves mastering the software used to extract and study data. Software engineers and statisticians often transition into data scientist jobs, requiring only a short learning period to work at full speed.

You could also work with local colleges to find students interested in getting data analytics experience through a summer job while they’re still in school. If you’re willing to wait while your newly-hired professional learns the specific skills necessary to extract the data you need, you’ll likely be rewarded with a loyal employee who grows along with your organization.

Train existing staff

You may already have someone on your team who is interested in learning to work with data. Before considering an outsider, first ask if any of your existing workers are interested in this role. Even if everyone on your team is too busy to take on additional responsibilities, it may be easier to hire someone to handle some of that employee’s workload than to find a dedicated data scientist at a much higher salary. By investing in the training your employee needs to do the work, you’ll show a commitment to your staff that will boost morale.

You can enroll your employees in online Tableau Training and Hadoop training courses, letting employees take classes from the convenience of home or office. With the right training, you’ll also be able to turn an important business function to someone you already know you can trust to do a great job. If you don’t have someone who would be a good fit, ask your employees to refer a friend for the position.


One of the best things a business with a budget can do is to outsource high-level technical work like data analytics. Working with a third-party service provider or contractor, your business can access an advanced expertise for an hourly fee. You won’t have to commit to paying an annual salary with benefits but you’ll still be able to build a long-term working relationship. You can save additional money by outsourcing the work to an overseas provider, whether it’s with a team or an individual contractor. Sites like Upwork give businesses access to a global workforce that includes data scientists and statisticians.


In the future, software will play a more prominent role in data science, eliminating the need to have a person to manipulate data. But there are already tools built into the programs businesses use each day. Take advantage of the analytics available for your Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts, in addition to using Google Analytics to monitor activity on your website. You may also be able to activate data capabilities on your bookkeeping software or POS system to keep track of your cash flow and customer purchases.

Your CRM software likely has analytics features built-in that can help you monitor your customer interactions, track your sales pipeline, and generate new leads. As data science continues to grow in popularity, each type of software will have its own built-in analytics, with dashboards that can pull it all together. Keep this in mind as you search for new solutions to power your business operations.

In the coming years, analytics will become easier for even the smallest business to access, empowering businesses with the information they need to make great business decisions.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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