Data Analytics: The New Must-Have Skill for Managers

Susan Hall

In an interview recently for, EMC’s VP of recruiting Tom Murray told me that the company in particular is looking for data scientists:

There’s a huge need across technology for data science skills. That’s an area where we will be aggressively hiring, not just this year, but next year and moving forward. … Big Data is the real theme for the company right now.

And in a recent IBM tweetchat, Terri Griffith (@TerriGriffith), professor at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University and author of "The Plugged-In Manager," wrote:

... All #job calls I'm getting are about #bigdata ... [we] push faculty to make the [Big Data] connections in case [studies].

Adding to the real-world uses of Big Data that my colleague Loraine Lawson wrote about recently, in the tweetchat, Anders Rhod Gregersen (@andersrhod), data scientist for Danish wind turbine vendor Vestas Wind Systems A/S, talks about how a log of the weather in your back yard for the past 12 years can be vital to selecting sites for wind turbines. He writes:

Many of my power users are statisticians - they have a natural talent  for data ... Data workers also need an understanding of computer science. Their core job is to turn BigData into BigKnowledge, for that reason biz understanding is essential.

In reading through James Kobielius' account of the tweetchat, however, it occurred to me that not only do data scientists need both IT and business skills, but increasingly data science is becoming a basic, essential skill for managers.

A McKinsey report last year said the United States alone faces a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with analytical expertise and 1.5 million managers and analysts with the skills to understand and make decisions based on the analysis of big data. Of course, the question is where those data science skills will come from.

Though education/industry collaborations such as IBM's collaboration with Yale will yield more analytics talent in the coming years, it seems that increasingly those roles will not be separate positions.

As Manish Parashar, director of Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute, put it in the tweetchat:

Your economic advantage depends on the data you have plus your ability to transform that data into meaningful insights..... Industries nimble enough to interpret & use the data in new ways to add value are the leaders....

Traditional decision-making structures must be adapted to incorporate data scientists in business and research.

Rutgers’ new MS in data science and discovery informatics injects big data into business decision-making.....Students not only need to learn  tools to handle big data – they must learn how to integrate big data into their reasoning.

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