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Bigger Talent Pool Needed to Understand Big Data

By APICS staff | 14 | 7 | April 01, 2014

As the amount of data companies have to handle grows, the analytics talent required to understand this data is outstripping supply, the Financial Times reports. “We have seen a significant year-on-year increase in the demand for data scientists in both the [United Kindgom] and overseas,” says Jon Palling, global sector head for technology at recruiting group SThree. Further, he says, laws of supply and demand are moving many talented workers into contracting to increase their earning potential.

Makers of analytics software are helping fill the gap by offering data science training in addition to on their own products. Cloudera, a provider of software based on the open-source Hadoop framework, is reporting high demand for such training offerings. “The primary focus is on current data professionals who want to first take on big data and move into building data science tools, says Ryan Goldman, senior product marketing manager at Cloudera. “But we also understand there is a larger audience trying to learn more about big data.”

“Businesses increasingly need insight to drive decision making,” says Lance Fisher, chief information officer at SThree. “There is undoubtedly an increase in demand for good data analysts who understand the business and can look for trends in masses of data.” The demand for data skills may only be filled once a wider group of employees gains skill in analytics, the Times reports.

Investors Seek Greater Insight into Corporate Sustainability

A group of more than 100 investors has released recommendations for greater disclosure into stock exchange listing rules, illustrating that environmental and social issues are of high concern to investors, Bloomberg BNA reports. The proposal by sustainability advocacy group Ceres is part of an effort to create common standards for sustainability reporting for publicly listed companies.

Tracey Rembert, senior manager for investor engagement at Ceres, says that, while investors increasingly consider sustainability issues when making decisions, consistent and comparable sustainability data is needed. Stock exchanges should provide “clear expectations for what companies should report,” she says.

The Ceres proposal lists three main recommendations:

  1. Explain processes for determining which sustainability issues are relevant for reporting.
  2. For 10 basic sustainability issues, including climate change and supply chains, create reports—or explain why the company does not report on the issue.
  3. Provide investors with easily accessible disclosure information.

Ceres adds that existing sustainability reporting frameworks such as the Global Reporting Initiative can be used for implementation.

WTO Strikes Down Rare-Earth Restrictions

The World Trade Organization (WTO) recently sided with the United States and agreed that recent Chinese quotas and limits on the export of rare-earth metals violate trade rules, Bloomberg News reports. The WTO panel also said that China did not adequately justify its export duties and quotas on the minerals, which are used in the manufacturing of high-tech goods, including hybrid car batteries and wind turbines.

 “We deeply regret the ruling,” says Chen Zhanheng, deputy general secretary at the Association of China Rare Earth Industry. He says the association examined the WTO decision’s impact on the nation’s rare earth industry. China, which produces more than 90 percent of the global supply of rare earths, has 60 days to comply with the decision or appeal. Commerce officials say they are assessing the panel report and will follow procedures to settle the dispute.

“China will probably appeal against the ruling, but may fail again,” says Wei Chishan, analyst with SMM Information & Technology in Shanghai. “China has managed to restructure its rare-earth industry over the past few years by consolidating the resources into larger companies and established a trading platform … [However,] it will have to abandon the quota system in the end.”

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