A lack of workers with the skills to analyse big data and weed out poor quality information will be one of the biggest hurdles many businesses face when looking to adopt the technology, a new study has suggested.

Research conducted by AT Kearney found that two-thirds of companies – including those with the most advanced analytics capabilities – have difficulty hiring enough people with the ability to generate insights from their data.

This is a problem that is only expected to get worse in the near future, as the study found companies will need 33 per cent more big data talent over the next five years.

In some sectors, the demand is even higher. Communications, media and technology businesses were found to be the most focused on this area, estimating their need for big data talent will increase by 43 per cent over the next five years. This was followed by financial services (36 per cent) and automotive firms (35 per cent).

More than four out of ten respondents (43 per cent) added that at least ten per cent of their company’s digital analytics positions are currently unfilled – with one in ten companies having a vacancy rate of between 20 and 30 per cent, and four per cent having more than 30 per cent of positions empty.

Partner at AT Kearney and co-author of the report Khalid Khan said that companies need to be looking for ‘trilinguals’ – individuals with a firm grasp of quantitative analytics, digital technology and business strategy.

Such people are currently rare in the corporate sector, so competition for the best professionals is fierce. As a result, many businesses are turning to university graduates who are schooled in statistical modelling.

However, Mr Khan noted that while these individuals often possess the right technical analytics skills, they may lack the ability to derive business insights with the data. Nearly 60 per cent of respondents agreed that people currently emerging from universities are underprepared for this.

Therefore, companies need a clear strategy in order to ensure they are targeting and hiring the right people. Mr Khan said: “A good strategy will determine early where there are already good pockets of expertise, where more talent is needed, and where talent could be better used.”