Taking a Skillful Approach to Data Science

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
data science and data scientists

IT executives must prepare for a massive shift away from the role of enterprise infrastructure guardians (a trend driven by the cloud) and toward data science.

By now, it should be perfectly clear that data is the new currency for the digital age. In fact, some observers—Gartner for one—have gone so far as to say that companies will soon incorporate data assets within annual reports and other documents. Already, corporate valuations and M&A activity hinge on the value of data residing within an enterprise.

As the landscape shifts from an industrial age economy to a digital age economy, a growing focus and dependence on data also means that there will be a need for far more sophisticated data scientists. According to Gartner, the worldwide economy will demand about 4.4 million IT jobs supporting big data by 2015. Overall, 1.9 million of these jobs will reside in the United States.

The underlying message for IT executives is to begin preparing for a massive shift away from the role of enterprise infrastructure guardians (a trend heavily driven by cloud computing) and toward data science. Yet, as Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner and global head of Research, points out: "There is not enough talent in the industry. Our public and private education systems are failing us." In fact, he adds, "Only one-third of the IT jobs will be filled. Data experts will be a scarce, valuable commodity."

That's where new, innovative programs, such as a recently announced partnership between IBM and 28 universities, come into play. There's a need to launch new curricula, improve existing programs, and find new ways to imbue students with the business knowledge and IT skills required for the digital age.

For example, one participant, Case Western Reserve University, has established a new undergraduate program in data science and analytics that focuses on the industry-specific skills required to capitalize on big data within an enterprise.

Another, Johns Hopkins University's DC-based Center for Advanced Governmental Studies, has introduced a Master of Science in Government Analytics and a Certificate in Government Analytics. The degree and credential provide students with the skills necessary to address contemporary political, policy and governance challenges.

Make no mistake, we need more of this type of innovation and many additional partnerships among businesses, universities, government and other relevant institutions. Without significant investments in people and knowledge, individual businesses and the overall economy will languish, and the full promise of the digital age will not be realized.

This article was originally published on 2014-06-05

Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for Baseline.

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