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'Essential' data scientists at a premium

15/04/2016 by Pascal CALOC


Data scientists – those who job it is to stare at data and spot trends – are essential hires for all businesses, according to CIO's Sharon Goldman.

Writing in an article for the publication, Goldman says the retail industry is the latest to tune into the major benefits of having an individual on board who can "mine the gold of the vast veins of data" – but it's having trouble finding data scientists.

In the piece, she speaks with Richard Howells, global vice president of extended supply chain at SAP, who explains why it is that data scientists have become so sought after.

"[They're] essential for not only collecting, managing and analyzing supply chain data, but also for garnering advanced predictive analytics to help executives make more intuitive, accurate and reliable [decisions], allowing them to deliver goods and services ahead of the competition," he explained.

However, demand for data scientists is currently outstripping supply, with every industry, not just retail, experiencing a shortfall.

According to McKinsey projections, there will be a 40-60% shortage of qualified applicants for these positions by 2018.

Steven Skinner, senior vice president at Cognizant Business Consulting, Products and Resources Practice Leader, says that retailers have a harder job than most to find data scientists because of the rare mix of business acumen, technology skills, intuition, and math they need to bring to the role.

When asked about how to attract the best data science talent, Skinner said that retailers should create a learning innovation environment that caters to "geeks" in the same way marketing caters to "creative types".

"They also need to realize the salary demands in this space are escalating," he added.


Data, CIO

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