Is The Data Scientist Really a New Concept?

Along with several others, Harvard Business Review has recently pointed out an area with significant job growth which is appropriate for individuals with a curious nature and an expertise in business analytics. But who will dominate this area? The Data Scientist- trending as “the sexiest job” in America, this role has a desirability that calls upon experts in analytics and in high ranking professions to make BIG discoveries within Big Data. What does the Data Scientist do? What are the types of skills does one need to fulfill this role?

The data scientist embodies the role of the analyst, the communicator, the trusted advisor, the programmer, and the consultant all in one. The data scientist has an expertise in statistics for extensive predictive modeling analytics. Most importantly, intense curiosities with the passion to investigate all angles and provide creative crafty solutions to companies. With all of these skillsets, the data scientist can generate innovative ideas by analyzing the voluminous amounts of data that pertain to a company.

The Data Scientist identifies opportunities through mining of the data and delivers a list of hypotheses, theories, indicators, and questions to strategize improvements with company leaders. Otherwise stated, the data scientist connects the dots for a company by analyzing their constant flow of data and improves their business model by pinpointing the gaps.  That is why it is important that data scientists are experienced professional that understands the business world and its’ challenges with the seniority and credentials to engage executive colleagues and help monetize on these gaps.

One example of many is Amazon leveraging data scientists to figure out strategies to improve their bottom line. After much research, Amazon produced a way to use personalized analytics to recommend items to customers based on what they and other customers with a similar profile have previously bought. Furthermore, many companies that are submerged online use personalized analytics to help consumers find new endeavors. Such as:

  • Netflix- help consumers find new movies based on similar profiles
  • Linked In- personalized analytics for recommending connections
  • Facebook- personalized analytics for recommending friends

But is the Data Scientist really a new role in corporate America or is it just a renaissance for the Statisticians and PHDs who now have new tools that enable them to harness the wealth of data that is being collected under the “Big Data” umbrella?  Marketers are coupling their analytics with the cyber tools that enable near real-time interaction with the customer.  In the old world “data scientists”  developed “Cross-sell” and “Up-Sell” models that drove direct mail and telemarketing efforts.  In the new world data, scientists are essentially doing the same thing, building models that can run real-time against more robust, richer datasets.