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Big Data consultant: How to hire the best one

Assessing knowledge and competency across 5 key areas.


man looking at data
A Big Data consultant must be an adept problem solver. They need to integrate multiple systems or services on a daily basis. Even with extensive experience, it is still impossible to be an expert on every tool when so many various technologies are on the market. That is why analytical skills are vital, as is the ability to link a variety of factors. Even after years of working in the industry, they often still encounter new problems for the first time. They need to be familiar with many environmental elements to accurately assess the sources of the problem and adjust the solution. Therefore, persistence and flexibility are highly valued among developers.
The consultant must understand how to administrate and manage a big cluster of servers, i.e., via Ansible. They must be proficient in installing and configuring software, understanding network settings, monitoring, and managing cluster resources (CPU, Memory), eliminating cluster bottlenecks, and balancing resources. When designing a solution, they must also know how to scale the solution to enlarge the environment with the least amount of work.
A well-designed environment is the foundation of Big Data. Still, the processes related to data management are at its heart, which is why Big Data consultant must know how to prepare data model and processing layers – without a good model, data maintenance and adding new data sources can be very painful. The engineer should also know data structures and understand their processing logic to implement a process with the lowest computational complexity. While executing a data processing flow, it is also essential to choose the appropriate technology not to complicate the process more than necessary.
Nowadays, great importance is attached to securing the data – it can be implemented on several levels. One of them is to ensure communication between the services themselves, for example, by configuring the SSL. Also, the engineer should know how to encrypt the disks using KMS tools and manage access to sensitive data. It can be regulated through access policies and tagging mechanisms. This knowledge is essential for the protection of the environment.
The Big Data area is constantly developing. New technologies and solutions appear now and then, so the engineer should regularly learn and monitor trends. Extensive knowledge of available technologies will allow for a more precise selection of tools to achieve business goals.

Big Data Consultant: Key Things to Look for When Hiring

Big data has been around for quite some time, but many organizations have yet to fully understand the opportunities it presents, more so when it comes to making the most of this ever-evolving field.
As IoT devices and online services become more advanced and user-friendly, more data is generated and collected. However, making sense of this information can prove to be a challenge for most businesses.
The complexity of big data has pushed companies to look for highly skilled big data consultants, engineers, and other experts. Not all of these organizations, however, know what to look for in the applicants. More than credentials on paper, experience and skills are more important when hiring a big data consultant, be it with one professional or a consultancy company.


Here are some key things to look for when hiring a big data consultant:

They’re problem solvers

Consultancy work in any field is mainly about problem-solving. This is even more important in big data and analytics, as roadblocks and challenges appear regularly. One of the regular tasks of a big data consultant is to integrate multiple systems or services and constantly monitor these for possible improvements.
However, no one can be an expert in all the tools of the trade, especially since new technologies and systems emerge regularly. Therefore, the IT professional you are looking to hire should have strong analytical and logical skills. Even if they have been working in the IT industry for a couple of decades, there is always the chance to come across a problem for the first time. They need to be familiar with the complex landscape of IT and data analytics and stay on top of the current and emerging trends.

They see the bigger picture

Big data comes in packets of incalculable size from countless sources. A first-rate big data consultant can design strategies and systems to efficiently collect, store, analyze, and visualize these packets of information for your different project needs.
More than simply recommending how to leverage the data, the consultant should also lead a team and a project while completing tasks within the set budget and deadlines. They should see the bigger picture of how the analyses they have can be used not only for one department or project but across the whole organization.

They are creative and quick on their feet

Creativity here is in the sense of coming up with solutions and recommendations. An exceptional big data consultant should develop accurate data sets using the latest technologies and intelligent algorithms. They should also be up to date with the trends, the industry, client’s competitions, and new strategies. 
The consultant’s work will involve querying data, performing analyses, and presenting findings and recommendations concisely and comprehensively. This should include interpreting data for specific projects and industries, and if needed, coming up with innovative proposals.

They have advanced technical know-how

Big data analytics relies on tons of information from various sources. The consultant you are looking to hire should have sufficient (if not top-notch) technical knowledge. They need to have solid programming skills, both the foundational languages and scripts and the emerging ones.
It is also a good thing to be familiar with text mining, clustering analysis, recommendations, predictive analytics, and other similar disciplines. The solutions they will recommend or help implement will also likely be delivered on-site or in the cloud. As such, they should have a solid understanding of cloud-computing services, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Salesforce, IBM Cloud, Oracle, and other popular providers.

They should know how to communicate properly

As with any leadership or consultancy position, communication is critical. Even if you have the right ideas and solutions, it will not be as effective if you cannot communicate them correctly to the team efficiently and timely.
When it involves a big project, communication is key between the consultant and the executives when proposals need to be approved. After that, they should again explain the tasks, objectives, and other details to the team when implementing the recommendations.
Consulting for and managing a project involves constant communication with several people. The big data consultant you are looking to hire should have no qualms in carrying this out.

A note to remember:

One important thing to note here is that they do not need to be an expert in ALL of these aspects. As a consultant, they will likely have access to a team of professionals. As a team leader or one of the decision-makers, they should tap into and make good use of the people and resources available.

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Things to Consider from Your Side

Finding the right consultant or consultancy firm for your significant data needs is a two-way street. As a company, you also must do preparations and due diligence to ensure your human resources align with your project and business goals.
This means that you should investigate several factors from your company’s side before hiring a consultant. Here are some of them:

The complexity of your data

The data your company collects come from various channels and sources. As such, you need to have at least a basic understanding of the data sources and the complexity of these packets and what challenges they may pose. This will help you determine what kind of analyst/consultant you need or what expertise or experience you should be looking for.

The gap in your current operations

Your organization is likely already doing some data analysis work. The next step should be identifying the gap in your current operations and improving the existing IT architecture and processes.
Before hiring a big data consultant, assess your current operations and find out what areas need improvement. Use the results of that analysis to narrow in on specific candidates.

The resources needed for the entire project

Big data consultants, especially the reliable ones, may often come with a not-so-low price tag — but they often prove they are worth it (if not more). Consider that costs could run high for recurring issues and services, complex data management needs, and even long-term projects.
Be sure you partner only with a trustworthy consultant or consultancy firm by researching them: their reputation, previous clients, and success stories. This should give you an idea of how they manage the client’s and their resources.
Of course, there are also other significant considerations such as data security and privacy, expectations management, flexibility and scalability of their offered services, and other things to keep in mind when hiring a big data consultant.

man looking at data

Final Word

The need and popularity of big data, data science and analytics, and the professionals that work in these fields will continue to grow, especially in our current IT-driven world.
Do your search for the best big data consultant as least stressful as possible by having a clear project goal in mind and understanding what kind of expertise your company needs to achieve the said goals.
Read more big data articles here

Any questions or comments? Let me know on Twitter/X.

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Passionate and experienced technology leader. Combining business and technology, helping American clients find exceptional technical talent in Europe and Latin America.

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