Analytics Challenge — California physicians group Heritage Provider Network Inc. is offering $3 million to any person or firm who develops the best model to predict how many days a patient is likely to spend in the hospital in a year’s time. Contestants will receive “anonymized” insurance-claims data to create their models. The goal is to reduce the number of hospital visits, by identifying patients who could benefit from services such as home nurse visits.

The need for analytics talent is growing everywhere. Analytics touches everyone in the modern world. It’s no longer on the sidelines in a support role, but instead is driving business performance and  insights like never before.

Job posting analysis indicate that market demand for data scientists and analytics gurus capable of working with large real-time data sets or “big data” took a huge leap recently.  The most common definition of “big data” is real-time insights drawn from large pools of data. These datasets tend to be so large that they become awkward to work with using on-hand relational database tools, or Excel.