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Issue 5 May 2012

Split personalities put data scientists in play

Data scientists are a new type of analyst: part data engineer, part statistician and part experienced business analyst. And they’re in high demand: Companies are combing through resumes and job websites, interviewing recent university grads and poaching from their competitors in an effort to bring these new talents into their organizations.  Of course, we’ve had statistical analysts—or “quants”—in our organizations for years. They’re often doctorate-bearing, white-jacketed folks who spend their days in the rarified towers of the back office. Unfortunately, while they are great at analyzing data, they are not always the best at explaining their findings to corporate executives and lower-level business workers in understandable terms. In many cases, it is nearly impossible to get clear answers from them to questions such as the following:  I see the trends, but why are they important and what should I do to change them? What impact will changing customers’ buying behaviors have on our revenues?  How do we change the causes of ...

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