How Can CIOs Find The Data Scientists That They Need?

by drjim on September 10, 2014

Where can CIOs find the data scientists that they need?

Where can CIOs find the data scientists that they need?
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Welcome to the era of big data. Now just exactly who is going to be working on all of that data? Now that everyone knows about the importance of information technology, it turns out that it takes a very special set of IT skills to get a large data set to tell your company the story that you want to hear. The people who know how to tease that story out of the data are the data scientists. The problem that CIOs are currently facing is that they don’t have enough of this rare breed of IT worker. What can they do about that?

How A CIO Can Find Data Scientists

So where are these elusive data scientists to be found? The first thing that the person in the CIO job needs to realize is that you may be looking for the wrong thing. Instead of trying to find that magical individual who has all of the data scientist characteristics that you need, perhaps you really should be looking for a team of people. Generally we are talking about two or more people.

One of the biggest challenges that CIOs have when they go looking for data scientists is that they need them to have both good technical and communication skills. The problem is that it can be very hard to find both of these skills in the same package. That’s where a team comes into play. One person may have the technical skills and the other may have the communication skills.

As CIOs it can be all too easy to “go out” and start our search for a data scientist. What we really need to be doing is starting our search off where we live: look internally first. What you need to be aware of is that you may not have anyone internally that has all of the skills that you need; however, with a just a bit of training they may be able to be grown into the data scientist that you were looking for.

If you do go looking for your data scientist outside of the company, will you be ready when you find them? You need to realize that there are not a lot of these people out there and they are all in high demand. You’re going to have to make sure that you have a good sales pitch for your company. Why would they want to come to work for you?

If you can’t find what you need, you always have the option of bringing in big data contractors. Be sure to check their backgrounds and make sure that they’ve got the real-world experience that you need, not just book knowledge.

Finally, if you want to catch fish, you need to know where to fish. The same thing can be said about data scientists. To find the talent that you need, you need to know where to go looking. The best places are where data scientists gather. This can include LinkedIn groups, special purpose blogs, etc.

What All Of This Means For You

As the person in the CIO position, you are the one who is ultimately responsible for making sure that you have all of the talent that you need in your IT department. One key skill that you are going to have to have going forward will be data scientists.

In order to find the big data talent that you are going to need, you may need to stop looking for one person who has everything that you need and instead start to look for a team of two or more people who will provide you with the data skills that you are looking for. Take the time to look inside of the company; with a little work you might be able to grow your own data talent. If you have to look outside, make sure you have a good story to tell about why your company is the place to work. If you have to, reach out to consultants; however, at the same time make sure that you are active in all of the groups and places where data scientists can be found.

The good news is that the data scientists that you need are out there. The bad news is that everyone else wants them t join their team also. What this means for you is that you’ve got some work to do to find your data scientists and then get them to join your IT team. Big data won’t be getting any smaller so you had better get to work!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: How many data scientists do you think that an IT department needs?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As the person with the CIO job, you are probably under a lot of pressure to have your IT department be more innovative. CEOs everywhere are telling the press that in order for their company to be successful, innovation is going to have to happen within the company. This is all fine and good, I mean who doesn’t want to be more innovative? However, does anyone know what real innovation looks like?

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