In 2012, American academics, DJ Patil and Thomas H. Davenport wrote in a Harvard Business Review article that data science is “the sexiest job of the 21st century”. They wrote: “If ‘sexy’ means having rare qualities that are much in demand, data scientists are already there. They are difficult and expensive to hire and, given the very competitive market for their services, difficult to retain.”
Looking back retrospectively, this article was, arguably, right on the money and if their definition of “sexy” is correct, data scientists are now the sexiest they’ve ever been.
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According to a new study from MHR Analytics, 80% of UK companies are planning to hire data scientists or seek data consultancy in 2019. At the same time, a separate study found that 47% of UK company leaders feel their workforce lacks the digital skills necessary to compete n the next decade.
Nick Felton, MHR Analytics senior vice president, said: “It’s now clear that 2019 will be the year of the data surge, with eight in ten companies seeking specialist skills and expertise to help navigate potentially uncertain market conditions.”
“Many organisations have now switched onto the fact that data analytics improves forecasting and enables more accurate decision-making. Data scientists are increasingly being relied on to give the clear picture when it comes to strategic business planning.”
“What’s striking in our research though, is that so many organisations are overlooking the potential for cost savings associated with a smarter data strategy, which can help reduce costs and admin.”
“A good data strategy can improve efficiency across the whole of the organisation. IT can provide unrivalled visibility into real-time business information and help identify future opportunities as well as potential risks to profitability.”
According to the study, the Data Surge Report, which surveyed 200 company leaders, economic uncertainty is fueling demand for data science. Of the organisations polled one third said they would be hiring a data scientist or specialists, while 45% said they were considering such a move.
However, many of the organisations surveyed failed to understand that strong data management can decrease operational overheads, with only four per cent citing reduced administration as a benefit. Instead, 25% quoted more precise decision-making, and 20% said better knowledge of business information was a fundamental issue.