Australia’s data scientists are trousering it like never before. But while businesses are paying huge data science salaries,  by their own admission many are not taking advantage of the investment.

That’s the main take out from this year’s IAPA Skills and Salary Survey 2015 results released this morning.

Almost half of the analytics professionals told the researchers that  ‘executive level understanding of data and analytics’ remains a key barrier to converting insight into action, and the authors cite this a potential problem area for companies who wish to adapt, evolve and innovate presents itself.

While the medium salary is eye watering, even the average number cruncher is due for a good Christmas with average salaries growing to $130k per annum, up strongly on last year.

The study suggests that about 30 percent of respondents work for ‘Supply’ (i.e. professional services, hardware providers, software or other supply-side organisations) with the remainder working in ‘Industry’ (i.e. banks, telecommunications or government etc.). These proportions are consistent with results from both 2013 and 2014.

“The median salary for analytics professionals continued an upward trajectory since 2013, rising 4 per cent year-on-year from $125K in 2014 to $130K in 2015 despite ongoing entry of low-experience and junior employees to the industry. This entry-level cohort, with less than two years analytics experience, accounts for almost 60 per cent of all respondents.”

Data science salaries continue to surge
Image: You should have paid attention in maths class

“Over a three-year horizon, this represents an 18 per cent increase in the survey’s median salary despite the proportion of less-senior respondents (analyst, senior analyst, or team lead) having increased by 14 per cent. Overall, this strongly points to ongoing labour market pressure with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting an average industry wage growth rate of 2.3 per cent.”

According to the authors, “Big Data Analytics (55 percent), closely followed by Business Leadership and Management skills (48 percent) are the skills cited by analytics professionals required to be successful in the next 12 months.”

They say this aligns to two of the key findings of the survey.

“Firstly, Australian businesses are finally adopting cloud and big data and are paying handsomely for those with skills and secondly, despite 40 percent of respondents believing analytics either enables or is a critical part of their business’s differentiation, 37 percent felt their company was either ‘not really’ or ‘not at all’ getting the benefit from their full range of skills. “

Among the key findings of the study;

  • 40 percent of respondents believe analytics either enables or is a critical part of their businesses differentiation but a significant 37 percent felt their company was either not really’ or ‘not at all’ getting the benefit from their full range of skills.
  • “Executive level understanding of data and analytics’ was cited as analytic professionals’ biggest challenge in converting insight into action (47 percent).
  • Median salary for all respondents is $130K, up 4 percent year on year (from $125K in 2014).
  • • Median salary of respondents is 175 percent of the median full time Australian salary ($70,720 May 2014 ABS stats), with 90 percent of respondents earning more than the median Australian salary.
  • Median salary for respondents with big data and cloud analytics skills is $200K, 50 percent more than the median respondent’s salary.
  • Australian businesses are finally adopting cloud and big data with respondents reporting to use Hadloop-related technologies increasing by 300 percent year on year.
  • Open source adoption is slowly becoming mainstream, with the number of analysts having used tools such as R and Python increasing between 50 percent to 100 percent year on year.
  • Approachable analytics are in demand with presentation and communication skills continuing to be the most frequently applied soft skills within analytics.

According to Jodie Sangster, ADMA/IAPA CEO, “As digital transformation continues to propel actionable data insight to the fore of strategic business decision making, two things will need to happen. “

“Analysts at all stages in their career will need to broaden their skill set to better equip themselves to contribute to whole of business activity, whilst the C-Suite needs to better understand how actionable insights can deliver a better customer experience to drive competitive advantage,” she said.

Disruptive influence

The study also focused on how analytics contributes to competitive differentiation at a time of significant disruption.

According to the study, “It was left to respondents to interpret ‘disruption’ in their context but common interpretations include shifting business models, reshaped markets, and the emergence of non-traditional competitors. Disruption is seen as a common trend, with 54% of respondents saying that they felt their industry was either being “quite” or “substantially” impacted by disruption from competitors, suppliers, or their customers’ expectations.”

Analytics is seen as a common response to disruption, say the authors.

“Eighty one percent (81 per cent) of respondents felt that their organisation was effectively and actively using analytics to either contribute, enable, or as a critical part of their organisation’s ability to enable innovation and drive differentiation. A full 25 per cent felt that analytics was in fact a critical part of their organisation’s ability to enable innovation and drive differentiation.

“However, a staggering 37 per cent of respondents felt that that their organisations were either “not really” or “not at all” getting the most value out of the full breadth of the skills they could offer. This represents a very real problem, both in terms of international competitiveness as well as national productivity.”

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