Welcome to the era of the data scientist
EMC Ireland country manager Jason Ward: 'Companies that embrace the big data challenge, rather than consider it a threat, will move ahead of the pack and develop better marketplace intelligence'

Welcome to the era of the data scientist

4 Oct 2011

Irish companies will soon need to recruit new technology experts called data scientists to work out precisely what products and services consumers will want, according to EMC Ireland country manager Jason Ward.

EMC employs 2,500 people in Ireland and in recent weeks its virtualisation sister company VMware announced plans to create 250 new jobs.

According to Ward, the sheer volume of data that will explode in the coming years will make it harder to decide exactly what consumers want and a passion for analysing and understanding data patterns will lead to a new kind of professional.

“The more we know about consumers the better we can give them what they want and, as companies gather more and more marketplace data, proper management and analysis can generate profiles that will allow us to match supply with demand.

“Irish companies should use spiralling volumes of data to better understand their consumers and give them precisely what they are looking for,” Ward said.

He explained that organisations around the world are investing in big data management to better profile their consumers.

“Soon, vacancies for data scientists will start popping up on recruitment websites and jobs boards in response to the growth in enterprise demand for a new breed of professional who can turn increasing quantities of data into insight that enables businesses to better compete, innovate and sell.

“The data scientist comes up with data mining and recommendation algorithms, deciding which analytics are most important, working on behavioural targeting, and developing products and services through the application of analytical methods on large data sets,” Ward explained.

Business output is increasingly based on data analysis and the data scientist is fast becoming the newest recruit in global information technology.

“Imagine a world where a mortgage bank uses GPS technology as a standard part of its risk assessment process, overlaying foreclosure and default data with the location of loans on Google Maps so that it can analyse its business in a geospatial context.

“Or where a retail organisation routinely collates social network information, blog content and analyst research – as well as demographics – in order to crunch it all together and identify crucial trends and correlations to customer loyalty.

“This intelligent application of multi-source unstructured data to meet commercial goals and challenges is becoming a staple part of the big data diet,” Ward explained.

The big data challenge

According to a recent International Data Corporation study, sponsored by EMC, 1.8 zettabytes of data will be created globally this year and enterprises will be responsible for storing and managing about 80pc of that information.

The report projects that, to manage the growth over the next decade, enterprises will need 10 times the number of servers they have now.

But a survey of chief information officers last year carried out by information technology analyst Gartner found that almost half of them ranked data growth among their top 3 challenges.

“Companies that embrace the big data challenge, rather than consider it a threat, will move ahead of the pack and develop better marketplace intelligence which, ultimately, will make a difference to their bottom line.

“The data scientist can join the dots and reveal relevant new trend patterns, uncovering startling new insights that inform the evolving business model.

“The data scientist can be a game changer for Irish enterprise – but we need to move now if we want to stay ahead of waves of new data generated by private and public-sector organisations over the coming decade.

“When it comes to big data, if we fail to prepare, we can prepare to fail,” Ward concluded.

John Kennedy
By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years. His interests include all things technological, music, movies, reading, history, gaming and losing the occasional game of poker.

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