© 2022 Cincinnati Public Radio
Connecting You to a World of Ideas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Data Scientist: the sexiest job of the 21st century

One sure way to get a job these days is to be a "Big Data" specialist. These are the people who can interpret massive amounts of information and tell businesses how to use it to make money. It's a very specialized set of skills involving computer science, business and statistics. The Harvard Business Review says the dominant trait among data scientists is an intense curiosity.   

So how do you get a job like this?

Dean of Northern Kentucky University's College of Informatics, Kevin Kirby says the skill set is a combination of various fields. "It's a very special set of skills but it's very broad. It's not computer science. It's not business. It's not quite statistics. It's all of that together."

Here are a few things data scientists do:

  • look at social media
  • business transactions
  • cell phone geo-tracking

This fall NKU says it will be the first in the country to start a bachelor's program in Data Science. Other schools have just master's degrees in it.

dunnhumbyUSA, based in Cincinnati, used to do data science primarily in the food arena, for companies like Kroger, Sonic and Panera but is expanding into retail. It also works with Macy's.

Senior Vice President of Client Solutions Milen Mahadevan says, "There is lots of data and you can create great fun algorithms, you know. Understand crazy things. But actually it's the human aspect in the real work, trying to understand it, what are people actually doing? I think what NKU and the College of Informatics have done is fairly unique and is actually put a lot of that together."

The Harvard Business Review says the dominant trait among data scientists is an intense curiosity. That combined with new technology  will make it easier to hold that data will help clients collect and use the information.

If there is any doubt data scientists are needed...IBM reports the world is creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, with 90% of it in the past two years.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.