Strong demand for data mining skills in Singapore


20 September 2014
Data mining professionals

Data mining is a powerful tool for driving business, but it presents many challenges from a manpower and skills perspective, especially in Singapore.

According to a new survey by specialist recruitment firm Robert Half, Singapore companies are among the most prolific users of data to drive business decisions.

Whenever a customer uses a credit card, a loyalty card or fill in a warranty card, there is a high chance that the company will capture their data to in order to learn about their behaviour such as what they buy, how they buy it and whether they are likely to buy more.  

According to the survey, 96 per cent of companies here are capturing customer details for use in data mining – the highest percentage of any country polled.

This captured data is used by 42 per cent of Singapore companies when making most of their business decisions, again the highest rate of any country surveyed.  Another 34 per cent use customer data some of the time when making decisions. 20 percent are capturing customer data but are not using it yet.

The survey polled 810 chief technology officers (CTOs) from a range of industries including 103 from Singapore.  It was conducted across seven countries - Singapore, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland and the United Kingdom – and shed light on the potential of utilising data to enhance marketing efforts for companies.

Stella Tang, managing director of Robert Half Singapore said, “Data analytics is even more essential in today’s digital age when too many businesses are vying for the short attention span of consumers.”

“Understanding the buying habits of their customers will allow businesses to effectively target the right products and provide a better end-user experience to consumers. This is particularly prominent for online and social media platforms such as the marketing messages companies send across Facebook, Google and Twitter.”

Given this trend, it is not surprising that data mining and analytics are skill sets that are increasingly in demand in Singapore.

“Singapore has always been at the forefront of using technology to drive business. It is no surprise that 42 per cent of companies are using data mining and analytics, now a core function in many IT teams, to drive business decisions,” said Tang.

“That’s why we are seeing an increased demand for skilled professionals with experience in data mining and analytics.  Robert Half has seen recruitment activity for these professionals increase by 18 per cent in the last two years,” she added.

According to Robert Half, some of the core skills that are critical for a data analytics or data mining professional include the ability to understand statistical concepts and knowledge of statistical software to generate analysis. The data professional also has to be familiar with methodology and processes in today’s environment, and possess the ability to apply knowledge to a business problem.

In addition, these professionals are required to have soft skills which include the ability to effectively communicate to audiences so that they will be convinced about the analysis and the recommendations that are being reported and presented.

Such data analytics and data mining skills are often in short supply, and the problem is more acute in Singapore than in other parts of the world. About 20 per cent of CTOs in Singapore find it harder to recruit skilled data professionals, compared with 15 per cent of their counterparts overseas.

Data mining also places additional pressure on a company’s IT employees to gather and make sense of the data. The survey found that six in 10 CTOs believe the workload of their IT staff has increased between 5 and 20 per cent due to the demands of data mining, while another 37 per cent estimated that the workload increased by 21 to 40 per cent.