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C-level executives cry out for data scientists

Brian McKenna
Ezine

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Board level executives are putting pressure on their IT organisations to find data scientists. Recent research, undertaken by OnePoll on behalf of Teradata, has confirmed two assumptions common among industry commentators:

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CEOs, in the UK, France and Germany, are crying out for data scientists, and 62% of C-level executives think  there is a data science skills shortage, and it is a real problem. 

The survey questioned 300 C-level executives were polled, 100 from each country.

Duncan Ross, director of data science EMEA at Teradata, said the research confirmed the hypothesis that the pressure for building up data science capabilities is coming from the most senior levels. But he expressed surprise that as many as 46% overall and 43% in the UK were looking to existing IT staff to fill data scientist roles. “That’s concerning because any business trend that looks to IT [to this extent] is in trouble”.

He welcomed the “surprise” finding that ‘creativity’ was a quality strongly sought by 35% overall and 36% in the UK, as was problem solving 43% and 38%, and, more predictably, he said, ‘technical experience’ 53%and 59%. Experience was more highly prized than education, in the survey. Only 24% were looking for a relevant degree.

People skills did not emerge as important in the survey with 17% overall and 16% in the UK rating it important, contrary to what is often supposed. Mathematical competence was only cited as important by 20% of respondents.

However, 54% of UK respondents said potential recruits do not have the right combination of business, IT, analytics and communication skills. Ross wondered if organisations might not be better advised to build teams,combining these skills, rather than seek out individual “unicorns” possessing them all.

“Are organisations set up in such a way as to encourage that?” he asked. “This research does not go into that. My own anecdotal evidence suggests organisations seem to be struggling to find the optimal way of deploying analytical resources”.

Once recruited, the majority (51%) of  data scientists will report into departments other than IT, with almost one quarter (23%) reporting directly to the board.

Other findings

  • 44% of organisations have a roadmap for big data
  • 19% are already running big data projects (26% in Germany, 13% in the UK)
  • 42% are currently recruiting or thinking of recruiting data scientists or other big data roles