Are Businesses Hiring The Best Talent For Big Data, Analytics and Mainframes?

There is an increasing number of stories about companies realising that a growing mainframe is the perfect platform for the new Big Data and Analytics techniques they want to use for their competitive advantage. This has led to a discussion about the availability of people who are skilled in Mainframe and Data techniques. In January this year, Alan Radding of Enterprise Systems Media posted an interesting Blog about this subject.

Alan wrote, “The next frontier in the ongoing talent war, according to McKinsey, will be deep analytics, a critical weapon required to probe big data in the competition underpinning new waves of productivity, growth and innovation. Are you ready to compete and win in this technical talent war?”

Similarly, Information Week contends that data expertise is needed to take advantage of data mining, machine learning, text mining and forecasting. The System z data centre is ideally positioned to win if you are able to find the right talent.

Sourcing, hiring, and then keeping good talent within the technology area is the number one concern cited by 41% of hiring managers, team leaders and senior executives according to the latest Harris Allied Tech Hiring and Retention Survey. Retaining existing talent was the next biggest concern at 19.1%.

Last year, CA Technologies published the results of its most recent mainframe survey that also reached similar conclusions. It found three major trends on the present and future role of terminal emulation software:

1) The mainframe is playing an increasingly strategic role in managing the evolving needs of the industry.

2) The mainframe as an enabler of innovation as cloud computing and big data transform the face of the IT enterprise.

3) Demand for technological talent with cross-disciplinary skills is needed to fill the critical mainframe workforce in this new view of enterprise IT.


76% of the global respondents to the CA survey believed that their organizations would face a shortage of mainframe skills in the future and yet almost all respondents (98%) felt that their organizations were moderately or highly prepared to ensure the continuity of their mainframe workforce. In contrast, only 8% indicated having had great difficulty finding qualified mainframe talent while 61% reported having slight difficulty in doing so.

The Harris survey was carried out in September and October 2014. Its message is clear: We must not be fooled by the national unemployment figures, currently hovering above 8%.  Harris Allied Managing Director Kathy Harris stated, “In the technology space in particular, concerns over the ability to attract game-changing talent has become institutional and are keeping all levels of management awake at night.”

The reason for this, as suggested in recent IBM studies, is that success with critical new technologies around big data, cloud computing, analytics, social business, mobile and virtualization are increasingly giving top performing businesses their competitive advantage. However, the lingering recession has taken its toll; unless your data centre has been charged to pro-actively keep up, it probably is saddled with 5-year old skills at best . . . and 10-year old skills is more likely.

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