What is a Data Scientist?

Michael Watson Ph.D Partner
Read Time: 2 minutes apprx.
big data defining analytics managerial analytics operations research

With the rise of Big Data and data in general (see here for a definition of Big Data), there is an increased need for people to analyze that data to turn it into information.  Thomas Davenport and D.J. Patil recently wrote an article in Harvard Business Review about how Data Scientists are going to be the hot job of the 21st Century.

A Data Scientist is

“a high-ranking professional with the training and curiosity to make discoveries in the world of big data. The title has been around for only a few years. (It was coined in 2008 by one of us, D.J. Patil, and Jeff Hammerbacher, then the respective leads of data and analytics efforts at LinkedIn and Facebook.)… “

“…More than anything, what data scientists do is make discoveries while swimming in data. It’s their preferred method of navigating the world around them. At ease in the digital realm, they are able to bring structure to large quantities of formless data and make analysis possible.”

The article is well-done and worth a read.  I think you could extend the definition of Data Scientist to also include the field of Operations Research (which includes optimization).  Besides just analyzing data, optimization can help you get even more value from the data.

One reason we offered a training session on managerial analytics was to help managers and analyst become data scientists.