Big Data, New Roles: Data Scientist

Big data has had its fair share of limelight this year. But with the emergence of this new capability, what changes will be left in its wake? One may be a stronger demand for the role of data scientist. If this is your first time hearing this title, don’t be alarmed. As of March 2012 about 300 people on LinkedIn held this title. Currently, Wikipedia does note have a dedicated page discussing this role. (be the first!) However, the description in most cases is someone who works in a blended role of statistics, mathematics and computer science on data focused questions. A recent Forbes article, “What Is a Data Scientist?: Michael Rappa, Institute for Advanced Analytics ” lists the 5 main qualities of a data scientist:

  • Technical skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Business skills
  • Tool Mastery

While this view may be the more traditional, others perceive the role to take a new form that is less concerned with statistics and mathematics and more concerned with data narrative. Donald Farmer, Vice President of Product Management at QlikView describes the role as an anthropological narrator in the article, “QlikView’s Donald Farmer Explains: What Is a Data Scientist?“. Farmer states,


“We like to think that we look at the data and we analyze it entirely objectively. Of course we don’t. We have so many other influences on us, which are emotional and personal and political.”

Farmer insinuates there are plenty of curious data enthusiasts with an appetite for this role. This interest is only increasing as users are empowered with the ability to analyze data freely.  While the data scientist is new and a specific description of the role may not entirely be decided yet, it is safe to assume big data is the sandbox these individuals have been looking to play in.