Originally posted on SiliconRepublic.com Crunch the numbers and you can already see that Ireland has the edge when it comes to capturing a slice of the most significant transition in business and technology history: the onset of the data-driven economy. On a bright and sunny morning in April, Dublin awoke to the news that a European online fashion retailer called Zalando was locating in Dublin. The news meant a jobs bonanza of 200 new positions. However, these positions weren’t for designers or models, they were for data scientists and STEM graduates who could work in R&D. “Understanding our customers, and gaining deep insights into their purchasing patterns and their behaviour online means we can provide them with a personalised and compelling offering,” said Robert Gentz, co-founder of Zalando. In that one sentence Gentz summed up the biggest opportunity of the 21st century: understanding your data. If you said to anyone 20 years ago that we’d all be walking around with powerful computers in our pockets, people would have looked twice at you. But now, smartphone-toting buyers are just in the vanguard of a whole world of sensors providing signals and insights for companies to better serve customers and basically sell more stuff. All of these signals and all of these sensors combined with always-on internet activity means that businesses will need to find ways of filtering this data to find the needle in the haystack for opportunity or to make split-second business decisions. Already there exists a community of employers in Ireland for whom data is their life’s blood, including: AOL; Aon; Tableau Software; Twitter; Pramerica; Fidelity; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Quantcast, TripAdvisor and Paddy Power, to name a few. I got my first insight into this field when it was a technology niche simply known as “business intelligence” and how casinos in Las Vegas even 10 years ago would gather and analyse data so effectively that no opportunity was lost in ensuring the average once-a-year visitor to the casino and its outlying shops, bars and restaurants would spend as much as they had on the premises. This data-driven thinking is being extended to every facet of life, including sports, where Sligo company Orreco, for example, has developed technologies that allow athletes and sports clubs across the world gain insights and ensure peak performance. When it comes to data science and data analytics, Ireland is already reaping the whirlwind of job opportunities as Zalando has shown. Other companies such as Aon have selected Dublin to host the Aon Centre for Innovation and Analytics (ACIA), for example. Accenture last year deployed a 40-strong analytics division in Dublin to develop future technologies and models for a variety of industries.
‘The data scientist is going to be one of the hottest jobs of the 21st century – it’s already an area in hot demand – but the teachers themselves weren’t aware of that’ – EDEL LYNCH, ACCENTUREIn March, it emerged that LexisNexis Risk Solutions is bringing in 70 jobs over the next three years for its Dublin-based centre of excellence for data analytics. As part of its efforts to capture a share of the US$1bn a year business intelligence market in Europe, Tableau Software is aggressively investing in its operations in Dublin. It already employs more than 33 people and has moved into new offices in Ballsbridge that can accommodate up to 100 people. Opportunities in data analytics aren’t purely the preserve of the multinationals. A new €446,000 collaboration between major Irish dairy producers Glanbia and Dairygold and Irish researchers will see data analytics and big data employed to help boost milk production. The collaboration involves researchers from Waterford Institute of Technology’s TSSG, Cork Institute of Technology and Teagasc collaborating with the dairy producers on the ‘Smart Appi’ Project. To work in the area of data analytics, good instincts in the areas of maths, data modelling and statistics are crucial. Jobs in the area include analysts for many parts of the industry –management, infrastructure, customer and QA. Salaries in big data and analytics vary from €40,000 a year for a junior business analyst, right to €65,000 for data governance managers, €85,000 for data warehouse architects and €100,000+ for heads of data governance.