Data Scientists: Should You Grow Your Own?

Susan Hall

I've written before about the confusion about what makes a data scientist. Forrester's James Kobielus sees it as involving both IT and business data analysts. And I've delved into how universities are trying to bolster programs to better meet the needs of business.


An article at CITO Research looks at the prospects of growing your own data scientists. It says:

The role of the data scientist is a hybrid role that can solve this problem. While the definition of the role is compelling, 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.

The article also points out three ways to grow your own:

  1. Provide the business staff with tools so they can analyze data and answer questions on their own.
  2. Communicate the questions that need to be answered to the analytics and IT experts who can then use the advanced technology to answer them.
  3. Improve communication so that business staff along with the analytics and IT experts can work as a team.


An article in Forbes' series "What Is a Data Scientist?" on Michael Rappa of North Carolina State University points to the required skills, as defined by the Institute for Advanced Analytics:

  • Technical skills
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Business skills (with a little bit of empathy)
  • Tool mastery


For more insight into what these in-demand workers do, check out these other articles in the Forbes "What is a Data Scientist?" series:


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