With data scientists so much in demand and with so few out there, it's no wonder many companies believe you should grow your own.
... it’s a lot easier to define the role than it is to hire someone to fill it, and even when you do, communication problems may persist. ... We also believe these people will have to be “created,” rather than hired. Often, the solution will not be to create a just one person who can be the data scientist, but rather to open up communication so that a team can do the job instead of having to have a virtuoso.
Still, I wasn't clear about who was on this "team." In an interview with my colleague Loraine Lawson, David Smith, vice president of marketing at Revolution Analytics talked about this:
I think any organization today probably has those skills, but the problem is that they're in different people and they're spread around the organization. A lot of organizations have statisticians. Pretty much every company at some level that’s collecting any size of data is doing some kind of analysis with it. Whether you call them statisticians or analysts or whatever, they're probably in the organization.
Same way you’ve got IT, which has typically been the masters of the data and the databases. And you’ve got the business people [who] understand the problems the company faces and have some ideas about what information might help to solve them. I think what’s different about this as an entire process is bringing those three skill sets together into a data science practice within an organization. I see a lot of big organizations today setting up departments with those three disciplines together to help solve some of these Big Data problems.
It's basically the competency center model, Lawson pointed out, asking what they're called. Said Smith:
Every company has a different name. Centers of excellence, analytic centers, exploration centers. There’s all sorts of different names, but they're all focused around the same mission of working with the Big Data that the company now has or is setting out to collect and figuring out what they can do with it.
Interestingly enough, I found that my colleague Ann All wrote about setting up a business intelligence competency center back in 2010. Ann interviewed Desmond Mullarkey, Paulo Dominguez and John Brkopac, all of Technolab Corp., who stressed that it can't be just a technology initiative, or just a one-off project, but an ongoing effort to use the in-house data to transform the business.