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Big Data VisualizationBig data is poised to become a key basis of competition, underpinning new waves of productivity growth, innovation and consumer surplus. A report by McKinsey identifies five domains that can reap huge benefits by harnessing big data: healthcare and retail in the U.S., the European public sector, and manufacturing and personal data industries around the world. There's a problem, though: Gartner says that fewer than 30 percent of the world’s companies are ready to manage big data. The U.S. alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 professionals with the deep analytical skills needed by 2018, as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the expertise to use the analysis to make effective decisions. In fact, the need for talent has become so dire that the Heritage Provider Network, California healthcare firm, is offering a $3 million prize to anyone who can create an algorithm to predict when people are likely to be sent to the hospital. The skills needed here are pattern-based analytics, knowledge discovery, social collaboration, advanced business insights and innovation, say Gartner bloggers John Roberts and Lily Mok. They believe the talent gap will be filled through business partnerships with academic communities, though some companies are attempting to build an inventory of experts by cross training existing workers. If you want to get a jump on all this, IBM is offering 1,200 free bootcamps.  You might uncover additional resources for free education and training by joining one of the 100 big data meetups groups around the globe. Photo: Wikipedia