Gigaom, By Ryan Kim, Dec. 16, 2010
The fact that Foursquare is looking for a data scientist, first reported earlier this week, is hardly news. They're just pursuing what many companies will eventually do as they try to tap the river of data they're generating to improve their products or build new business opportunities. Indeed, data scientists will increasingly become vital employees as companies create and use more and more data.
But what is a data scientist? Hilary Mason, a data scientist at Bit.ly, has a good definition. It's someone who can obtain, scrub, explore, model and interpret data, blending hacking, statistics and machine learning. It's a set of skills that go beyond many existing job titles and it's increasingly in demand.
Katie Tucker, a senior partner at executive recruiting firm Korn/Ferry, said the hunt on data gurus, czars and architects has kicked into high gear in the last year. She said there was a 200 percent increase from 2008 to today in searches for executives with sophisticated data mining or data analytics capabilities. As companies emerged from the recession and expanded their marketing budgets, they started to look for more efficient ways to build their businesses and become even more relevant to their customers.