Ranks of Seasoned DBAs Expected to Thin Dramatically Within Next 10 Years

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While cloud, virtualization, and automated capabilities are helping to eliminate some of the grunt work of data management, there will continue to be strong demand for seasoned data professionals who can help guide their companies’ data strategies. A new survey of data managers and professionals who are subscribers to DBTA finds however that a substantial portion of current data professionals intend to leave the data management field within the next 10 years. The research was sponsored by Ntirety, a division of HOSTING, and fielded by Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, Inc.

Data professionals are aware of the seismic shift in data management that is elevating their role in organizations and see opportunities ahead. Respondents to the survey said they are energized by the myriad of new technology opportunities but often feel dissatisfaction in their roles due to the constant need for “firefighting” that gets in the way of their involvement in higher value and more innovative activities.

A majority of respondents, 52%, expect to say in the field over the next 10 years, with 33% of those hoping to take on more technical or management responsibilities within their database or IT departments. Data management professions are certainly not job hoppers – indeed 48% indicated they had been with their current job for more than 10 years. However, about two-fifths of respondents expect to leave the field – with about half expected to retire – and the other half moving on to other jobs in management or self-employment.

The graying of the data management profession may be considered inevitable especially since it has been 30 years since the first relational database product was introduction. This demographic shift aside, keeping experienced data professionals happy may be more important than ever today since seasoned experts are now working much more closely with the business in the role of trusted advisor.

A majority of respondents, 84%, report they spend at least some time each week working with business leaders and managers in a consulting capacity and 15% say they work almost full time in a consulting capacity. Overall, 35% of respondents expect this type of activity to increase over the next 5 years. Senior data professionals are the most likely to be spending time in such high level roles.

Overall, 41% of respondents say there is just too much work on an emergency basis and not enough time for innovation, and 35% expressed frustration with the need to manage increasing workloads and complexity, while 32% cited inadequate departmental support and staffing as their biggest source of angst.

There is a need, the study concludes, for greater training for data professionals with the latest technologies to support them in tackling new opportunities and challenges. More can also be done to support data professionals by tapping into cloud resources as well as automating rote processes to free up time activities that will be both more stimulating for them and contribute more value to the business.

“This survey highlights a ‘vanishing DBA’ problem on the horizon and why a company needs to start planning for it today or find their business at real risk," said Michael Corey, president of Ntirety. “This issue is of critical importance since database technology is only becoming more integral to enterprise success.”

The full research report, titled “The Vanishing Database Administrator: Survey of Data Professionals’ Career Aspirations,” is now available for download.