The Sex Appeal of the Data Scientist

Couple in LoveThe sexiest job of the 21st Century is… Data Scientist. At least that’s what Thomas H. Davenport, a visiting professor at Harvard Business School, says. You see, he describes data science as being a field that’s all about supply and demand. It’s like dating: Who’s sexier than the one you want but can’t find?

In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Davenport writes:

The shortage of data scientists is becoming a serious constraint in some sectors. If capitalizing on big data depends on hiring scarce data scientists, then the challenge for managers is to learn how to identify that talent, attract it to an enterprise and make it productive.

Even though the job of “data scientist” is relatively new, people with this kind of niche expertise have been around for years as corporate data volumes have exploded. A recent report by the market research firm Gartner estimated that enterprises will spend $28 billion on Big Data this year, and that will rise 20 percent to $34 billion next year. Much of the money will be spent on retrofitting existing systems rather than on embracing cutting-edge innovation.

Meantime, social network analysis and content analytics will represent 45 percent of new spending each year, says Gartner. As a result companies with a heavy investment in social network interaction or large amounts of online content are collecting petabytes of information and are the ones most in need of  help.

Whether the job description calls for a business intelligence analyst, data analytics expert or big data guru, similar skills are usually required. If you’re experienced in Hadoop, the most widely used framework (along with related open-source tools), cloud computing framework design and data visualization, your outlook for future employment may be sexy indeed.

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