Do You Need A Data Scientist?

Filed in Cloud Industry Insights by Nick Kolegraff | July 10, 2013 2:00 pm

The question “do you need a data scientist?” came up a lot when I was a management consultant for a global firm that successfully incubated data science within a few enterprise organizations. It’s hard. The discussion is hard and the culture clash for data scientists is hard. Many approach data science as some dark magic from Hogwarts. It’s not. Investigating a hypothesis takes time. Spontaneously generating data and building a model against that data doesn’t work. Understanding who you need and how they will fit into your organization is challenging. Where do we put them? Who do they interact with? What is the hand-off? Who do we structure around the project? How do you execute a project? Even better, how do we make MONEY? Yet, before we go there, perhaps we should step back a bit and think of this as a strategic question. Because maybe you do need a data scientist and maybe you don’t.

If you are thinking about whether or not you need a data scientist, then here are some questions and insights to consider.

How accessible is your data?

How vs. Why?

Product or Project?

I firmly believe that everyone in the enterprise needs or will need data science at some point. Yet, finding a relevant product that requires data science is the hard part. Statistics and predictive modeling are not new. Throw in ad-hoc innovative culture, scale, and reusable data pipelines all feeding some user application and you might have data science. Maybe the question isn’t “do you need a data scientist?” but rather, “are you doing something right now that warrants data science?”

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