Talent market update: data and analytics

29 April 2019

Pentasia’s Daryl King provides some key insights from Q2 surrounding the critical business area of data science, including contract day rates and the state of the talent pipeline.

In the gaming industry, effective data analytics can be truly make-or-break for businesses. Well-architected data infrastructures, effective insight analysis and strong business intelligence (BI) leadership are critical components of a successful online gaming operation in 2019.

For this reason, BI and analytics professionals have long been on the ‘hiring priority’ list, and the demand for talented and experienced data professionals shows no sign of abating.

Requiring an advanced skillset, often coupled with a strong academic background, senior roles can be difficult to fill. Plus, with such high stakes, there’s little room for compromise.  

Data scientists – those who can develop the all-important algorithms and statistical models which power products – are critical early-stage hires, as are the architects who can design and develop statistical systems. BI analysts provide ongoing value with insight and informed recommendations.

High demand across all levels
Gaming employers are working hard to fill talent pipelines – often facing strong competition from other industries. Candidates have clear control of the market, and are well aware of the value of their technical skillset.

Even junior professionals or graduates can find themselves courted by multiple employers. Lower level analytics roles are in high demand across the industry and are suitable for graduates of computer science or a quantitative discipline with high-level data credentials (Python, R, SPSS, SQL, etc.).

Gambling industry experience is highly desirable, but in the absence of it, knowledge of, or passion for, the gambling industry remains of utmost importance.

Contracts are king
Contract work is now the clear expectation of almost every experienced data professional. Those leaving permanent employment would rarely do so unless moving to contract, where they can expect to earn double the money and enjoy greater flexibility. 

Day rates of between £500-700 are typical, but this can vary depending on the exact skillset.

Only the highest packages – £150-200k+ salary at director level – are able to entice data professionals away from the appeal of contract work.

Moreover, many contracting candidates prefer to work as part of an established team on a project-by-project basis. Clients hiring for a single permanent role – a systems engineer, for example – can  expect to receive proposals from a contract team able to complete a set project in its entirety.

Combining lower level in-house resources with experienced contractor talent appears to be an advisable approach for many employers, although given the pace of the market they have to be prepared to adapt and deal with talent churn.

Things are particularly tough for UK employers at the moment. Significantly fewer applications have been received for London-based roles in a timeframe that seems to chime with Brexit uncertainty.

However, other European locations including Austria, Romania, Bulgaria and Spain have seen a distinct uplift.

This is undoubtedly an exciting time for BI and analytics in gaming. As ever-more advanced systems and automation become the new norm, the data talent market is sure to continue thriving.

Daryl King is a specialist data and analytics recruitment consultant at Pentasia.