Clearly one of the most in-demand roles in both technology and broader business roles is that of the Data Scientist. To quantify this, research from leading analytics provider SAS highlights the demand for Data Scientists roles in the UK. They commissioned research that demand had risen 350% since 2008, and was set to grow dramatically in the rest of this decade. This research can be extrapolated across all major economies globally.
This growth is easy to align when one makes a brief review of analytics and services vendor job sites finding similar demand for the Data Scientist.
What is increasingly important is to look at the best criteria for selection of the data scientist and the capabilities that it serves within the organisation. For many, the focus in the initial evolution of the data scientist has been on a candidate with a PhD and strong academic foundations.
Whilst academic success is important and a fundamental requirement, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is a significantly greater range of skills required than the completion of a PhD. What is important is context and communication and a curious mind.
A great data scientist has the context and understanding of the business. They can do the data discovery and guide the business to the insight and understanding that is required to grow market share, meet customer objectives, optimise staffing or any other relevant data and analytics business task.
Again the process, and academic knowledge is worthless if the Data Scientist cannot communicate the outcomes and next steps to stakeholders. The requirement for strong communication and content generation skills is critical for the Data Scientist to shine and add value for his department.
As for the curious mind, this is valued everywhere, even if many curious minds need the occasional bump across the working day to increasingly align time spent with outcomes.
Bottom line – If you are looking for a data scientist in your organisation, academic backgrounds are important, but context and communications are equally important and ensure that outcomes exceed investment.