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Archive: April 2014 (Features)

Tuesday, 29 Apr 2014
Cara Quinton

Nigel Cummings

“Data scientists are the new rock stars” according to the likes of Olaf Swantee, CEO EE, Ken Rudin, head of analytics at Facebook and Jeff Magnusson,  manager of data science platform architecture at Netflix.

These gentlemen believe the data sciences are now so popular that if you ask children what they aspire to be as adults, data scientist will be a choice mentioned in the same breath as fireman, doctor, rock star, rapper, or even astronaut. This is because these days being a data scientist is seen as being someone involved in a glamorous industry. 

Just looking at the United States alone for a moment, there are almost 190,000 positions available for up and coming data scientists.  Companies looking for success in the data sciences are taking in all sorts of science graduates; Bachelors, Masters and even Doctors. Stanford, North Carolina State and Northwestern universities are already experiencing a huge influx of students clamouring for degrees in data management and analysis. A similar situation exists in Europe and applications for data science placements are “on the up” in the UK – you only have to attend one of our careers open days to see that!

A study by the Royal Academy of Engineering shows that British industry will need 1.25 million new STEM graduates between now and 2020 just to maintain current employment numbers. Even that figure might not be enough to satisfy the British data industries’ requirements though.

This is because is “big data” is as yet unquantifiable, just how big is it? A study at the end of 2012 by IDC predicted the “digital universe” would reach 40 zettabytes (ZB) capacity by 2020, though in reality that figure could be much higher – 40 ZB is 4*1022 bytes or approx, 40*270 bytes)

This terrific surge of data is being created by many external forces which include: financial transactions, mobile phones and social media, the number of clicks that take place daily on the Internet to access information, and even from the updating and keeping of medical records.

According to IDC only 1% of the world’s data is currently being analysed and the technology and tools for collecting and storing information has to date raced far ahead of our skills to understand it -data collection is outstripping our abilities to develop technologies to analyse it! Filling this “big data gap” is not just a question of “getting up to speed” with technologies though, filling the gap also means importing “new talent” into data driven employment - these people will be in demand as much as the software developers of the dot-com boom were.

Eric Siegel, author of Predictive Analytics, summed up the value of data when he said. “A user’s data can be purchased for about half a cent, but the average user’s value to the Internet advertising ecosystem is estimated at $1,200 per year.”

Data scientists Reid Hoffman and Konstantin Guericke created LinkedIn, in December 2002 to help build individuals’ networks for them.  The “people you may know” feature has, through its ability to target individuals for marketing purposes, raised the “value” of the company to approximately $7.5 billion (£4.5 billion). LinkedIn is one company that shows analytics can be a route to massive revenues!


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