The Supply Side of Data Science

People all over tell me how big the demand for data science is, and how much of a shortage of data scientists they see.

Screenshot from 2015-08-24 10:05:27

and a new survey by MIT (sponsored by SAS) points out to this looming shortage between the demand and supply of data scientists (side note-  still surprised why companies insist on registration in this era of OpenID for download of white papers like these

The Sloan Paper is very nice and points to this- the image above is from it . You can look here

People like IBM, Oracle, SAP, HP, SAS , Revolution Analytics, RStudio , Cloudera, Continiuum Analytics are focussing more on capturing on the demand for data science as it is very lucrative. They do so by providing enough resources in marketing to help explain their offerings, sponsoring though leaders , white papers. Training remains a back end activity- considered non critical to a software vendor in data science. Quite disappointingly these training are often expensive and lack customization for international audiences. Why not capture your training on videos and sell them for $20 , dear people.

But here lies the catch, if you train data scientists in your platform early on , you own them for life.

Perhaps software vendors can focus on their core competencies of data science demand satisfaction and invest in training collateral too.


Some thoughts on this-

  • People need a human touch. Not everything can be automated via apps, videos, quizes. That is partly why Coursera  has a low pass rate.
  • Demand for data science teachers is even more tough than demand for plain data scientists
  • If you train people in your platform they champion that software wherever they go
  • Increasingly people want to be trained in multiple software to hedge risk to their career.
  • Independent cross platform trainers are even fewer than trainers who can train in one language or data science platform
  • Most training tends to be in English including MOOCs. This leaves out a big chunk of humanity who could have helped create the necessary data scientists including Chinese Arabic and Spanish speaking people
  • Governments have helped improve literacy but are ignorant on data science skill shortage. Partly because Governments find it even more tough to attract people skilled enough who can make data science policy.
  • The country with the best and maximum number of data scientists would win the race in the next few decades or atleast have a superb edge in innovation
  • Ask not what you can get from data science, ask what you can do to make more copies of yourself as a superb data scientist. This goes out to the data science celebrities
  • Machine learning continues to be woefully under taught in colleges especially in Asia (and I suspect in USA)
  • Many many Universities struggle to keep professors with tenure for life, updated for skills and new languages pertinent to data science
  • Some parts of the data science ecosystem remain prone to corruption and self centred tactics including influencing data science writers or analysts  . The sum of many local optima (vendors in software or training education) is not a global optima (for the industry, country, humanity)

everybody wants to use data science but nobody wants to help create more data scientists. do you agree or do you disagree?



Author: Ajay Ohri

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