WTF is a Data Scientist anyway ?


The Big Data hype engine rolls on but nothing ever gets any clearer. Let’s be serious, NASA has been playing with ‘lots and lots’ of data since the time of the Moon launches but it was just data back then, and now all of a sudden it’s this big concern for the CIO ? Of course what comes with a fancy new industry vertical is a fancy new job title to come with it; the Data Scientist.

According to yet another survey this time by NewVantage, 70% of organisations surveyed plan to hire Data Scientists, and 100% of them said it’s “somewhat challenging” to hire a competent one. But just what is a Data Scientist anyway ?

There’s a funny Gartner blog post by analyst Svetlana Sicular (yeah, I know….Gartner doesn’t do funny) in which she heard a couple of definitions;

…a data scientist is 1) a data analyst in California or 2) a statistician under 35

But more importantly, Sicular makes a killer point. ”Organisations already have people who know their own data better than mystical Data Scientists…learning Hadoop is easier than learning the company’s business.” In other words, if you have a Data Analyst employed then your search is over.

It seems to me that as well as an entire industry being set up to handle what is basically just more data (i.e. just scale what you have) there’s a whole other market in squeezing a bigger salary out of an organisation for essentially the same job you already employ someone to do.

The notion of a Data Scientist is a little mad but then so is Big Data. Removing the buzzwords just leaves you with….Data.

And that’s all that it’s about, has been about and ever will be about.

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