Friday, November 30, 2012

Sexiest Job of this decade?

What is the sexiest job of this decade?  It's called a Data Scientist. They are few and far between, often have PHD's in advanced mathematics and/or statistics and the thought of Petabytes of raw data turns them on.  Currently, East and West coast major metropolitan areas (i.e. tech company areas), a data scientist is making between $300,000 and $500,000 per year.   I bet you wish you would have paid more attention in that abstract calculus class now!

What is a data scientist you ask?  They take Big Data in its rawest form and create connections, models, predictions - predictive analytics.  Take for example the now infamous story where Target was using the habits of its shoppers to predict based on what was in a woman's shopping cart if she was pregnant or not.  Often, even before she knew herself.  Check out this article to see how and try not to freak out.  The bottom line is that they assign everyone, yes, everyone a customer ID tied to your credit card and other data that you are providing.  They are then mining that data to predict certain patterns one of them being pregnancy.  It turns out that by tweaking the predicative formula they could time a women's due date to within a week.  This allowed Target to send out coupons to the woman at specific pregnancy milestones to earn her business and loyalty.  Coupons for prenatal vitamins, unscented lotion, cribs, diapers, you get the picture.  If this is what can be done with a company not really knowing who you are imagine the data collected about you if you use a customer loyalty card.

If you're interested in learning more details about how a data scientist does this work check out the Forbes article. 

Here are a couple buzz words to learn:
Hadoop architecture -- an open source architecture designed to map, crunch and qualify tons of data
Big Data -- is a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools
Data visualization -- is the graphical presentation of information, with the goal of providing the viewer with a qualitative understanding of the information contents Examples
Advanced Analytics -- is a grouping of analytic techniques used to predict future outcomes

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