Data scientist: “the sexiest job of the 21st century”

Big Data is a hot topic. Everyone is talking about it or working with it. It’s still too early to tell how Big Data will change the world, but the signs are there: it is changing. The data scientist is the person in the organization who has to bring about this change.

The data scientist is a relatively novel, popular profession, both with students and clients. Harvard Business Review classified it as “the sexiest job of the 21st century,” and with good reason.

Data scientists are jacks of all trades

The data scientist is the modern jack of all trades. They combine the roles of hacker, analyst, communicator, and trusted advisor. They also have to be able to understand the business and solve complex problems with simple solutions.

Important factors to consider concerning data scientists

The most important factors concerning data scientists are:

  • What skills should a data scientist possess?
  • What steps should you take to find a data scientist?
  • How do you bind data scientists to your organization?
  • What developments are happening in the data science field?
  • Which tasks and responsibilities are part of this profile? How do you implement them in existing organizations?

These questions aren’t easy to answer, but we’ll provide a starting point on this page.

What are the skills of a good data scientist?

The skills of a Big Data scientist are very diverse. They have to be a jack of all trades. Their most important skills are:

  • A thorough university education in the direction of mathematics, econometrics, or statistics. Using these skills, performance management can be deployed effectively.
  • Technical analytical skills, like being able to work with econometrics and statistics. The data scientist also has to be able to work with packages like SAS Visual Analytics, Tableau, Power BI, and Watson analytics. Finally: experience with R is important.
  • Technical computer skills. They have to be able to work with various languages and tools. They have to be able to achieve quick results using them.
  • Having an inquisitive mind and daring to think outside the box.
  • Thorough knowledge of the business, and knowing which problems are important to solve.
  • Being a good communicator and being able to communicate technical matters to non-technical people, like the marketing department.

These skills are difficult to unite in one person. And if you can find this jack of all trades, the question is how long you can bind them to your organization.

Developments are happening rapidly, both on the technical level (BI software) and on the business level. More and more organizations are making the difference using Big Data Science. The most important trends in this field are:

  • Free birds: data scientists have to be free to look for inventive solutions to business problems in Big Data.
  • Own tools first: let the data scientist use their own tools that they’re comfortable with first. There are so many different software tools available that it’s impossible to define standards, let alone force them. And the market hasn’t stopped growing yet, so leave the choice to them.
  • Storage is key: ensure plenty of storage for large volumes of data processing. The cloud is an ideal solution, and in-memory data processing is gaining popularity. The disadvantage is that more and more data is stored outside of your “house”.
  • Pressure is increasing: start-ups especially have to be able to use data to show that they’re viable. That puts a lot of pressure on the data scientist to be able to deliver the necessary data quickly and correctly.
  • Over-heating labor market: the demand for data scientists exceeds the amount entering the market. Organizations run the risk of missing the boat. They can’t recruit a data scientist.
  • From individual to team: it’s very difficult to find this jack of all trades, the data scientist. For that reason, some organizations form teams who fulfill this role collectively.

These aren’t all the relevant trends. There are many developments in the field of software development. More and more, Business Intelligence vendors are integrating Big Data in their software. In doing so they attempt to simplify and automate the data scientist’s process.

Do you want to hire or recruit a data scientist?

Data scientists are rare and hard to find. Passionned Group has been working in this field for over 14 years. This has allowed us to build a huge network. We can find you this jack of all trades, or form a team with the required competencies. If you’re a data scientist, feel free to contact us. Together, we’ll look for the right candidate for your organization.

The advantages of a Passionned Group data scientist

Data scientists mostly operate in an environment more traditionally suited to solving Business Intelligence issues. We often see a large gap between both worlds. Because of that, well-intentioned initiatives often prove unsuccessful. A good roadmap can help you bridge this gap.

All our experience and tools, which the data scientist will bring to bear, can help you avoid a large number of pitfalls, which greatly increases your chance of success. Passionned Group is completely independent, and not bound to any vendors. This gives us a unique position in the market.

How can you become a (better) data scientist?

Obviously you can’t just take a quick training course and get to work as an experienced, fully-fledged data scientist. A good data scientist does a lot of research, accrues experience, and learns things in practice every single day. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but a thorough Data Science training course is a good start.

The data analyst of 15 years ago isn’t the data scientist of today. A different set of skills is needed. It’s not just about making a correct analysis anymore. It’s all about using data to solve business problems in the here and now.

Opening Big Data scientists

Passionned Group is on the lookout for data scientists to help service its clients. If you want to broaden your horizons, have a new experience, or if you’re “shopping around”, reach out to us. We’d love to have an introductory conversation.

Data Science: the world of big data

Data science has become an integral part of our daily lives. Many organizations are working with it and using data science to make the difference. Big Data, and its analysis, is quickly taking over the world. Consider, for example, smartphones that can recognize objects in photos, or data analyses that can detect diseases. Or organizations like Netflix, who develop movies and shows based on the Big Data provided by their users.

Data scientists are the ones who have to accomplish all of this. They’re not the people from 15 years ago who deliver statistical reports. The data scientist of today has to independently look for clever solutions to real business problems. They make use of all kinds of structured information and very complex data sources. However, this is only possible if you have a solid architecture.

Shortage of qualified data scientists

Technology and data sources are developing so rapidly that there’s a great shortage of qualified data scientists. It’s a very attractive position. Many (young) people are studying this field now. But it’s going take some time before the scarcity problem is solved.

Until then, there’s a lot of work to do. That work doesn’t start with the question “where can we get the right people?” It starts with the question “what are the data scientists in your organization going to do, and especially, what can they add?”

How important is your data quality?

If you don’t quite know how to answer this question yet, our advice is to get started with different matters first. Business intelligence and data-driven working have to be fully developed and mature in order for data scientists to have a solid foundation.

Too often we see that organizations dive headlong into Big Data without really being concerned with their own data quality and management. You have to work on both to successfully catapult your organization into the data-driven future.

Interested, or want to know more?

If you want to know more about data scientists or you want to hire one, reach out to us. You can freely contact us for advice or a conversation about your organization.

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Daan van Beek, Managing Director


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