If there was one theme I found over and over again at FOSE, an annual gathering of government technology enthusiasts, it was Big Data. Whether you’re a business or government agency, today’s progress still leaves you with one hurdle to overcome, and that’s information overload. Mobile computing and cyber security were also hot topics on the agenda, but even those arenas have to deal with the challenge of data – keeping it safe, storing it and making it accessible.
In his day two keynote Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel highlighted technology initiatives in government, including the White House’s just released memo requiring agencies to make information more open and machine readable.
Van Roekel said open data isn’t about releasing reams of documents, it’s about making information ‘accessible.’ He noted that this kind of initiative has an impact outside of the walls of government – real estate, energy, public safety and health can all be improved through better access to information, he said.
“It can improve the quality of people’s lives and also create jobs,” he noted.
When it comes to jobs creation, he’s likely right. The hottest careers in IT follow the trend of data center consolidation, virtualization and cloud computing, all of which are strategies for harnessing the massive amounts of data out there today. The Intelligence Community is likely one of the world’s biggest data curators (they hire ‘angry librarians,’ after all). Possessing a security clearance and the IT skills to help government and industry tackle its data issues poises you for good job security today, and in the years to come.
Even for professionals outside of IT, being able to harness the growing amount of information available will be critical to future job security. We’re a few years away from employees conducting interviews with their Google Glasses on, poised to provide a response to an interview question via a search query (I hope). But whether your industry is graphic design or systems engineering, you’ll face more ‘noise’ in your quest for project completion. Maybe mastering ‘big data’ is a good career move for everyone.