Will the Real Data Scientist Please Stand Up?

Frank Coleman By Frank Coleman Senior Director, DELL EMC Services April 30, 2014


I recently read Steve Jones‘ blog post, “What are the types of Data Scientist?“. I’ve been sharing it with my colleagues to help them understand the challenges of hiring a Data Scientist. Everyone is investing in Advanced Analytics / Data Science and wants to hire their own Data Scientist.

If you’re not careful you may end up with what Jones refers to as “Data Science Bluffers.” This post resonated with me because I recently wrote about How to become a Data Scientist and it immediately made me think of Eminem’s classic “The Real Slim Shady.” I think it’s fantastic so many people want to be Data Scientists, but many don’t really know what that means.

Jones categorized 4 groups of people who think they’re Data Scientists. I thought he did a great job explaining each, so please check out his post for the full details.

professor-teaching-cartoon1. Magicians or Professor Data Scientist – Creating new algorithm development, overkill for most groups.

I haven’t worked with any of these people, so I don’t have much to offer from my experiences.

5357_20101200242. Data Operators or Resident Data Scientist – The sweet spot, understands how to use the models and applies them to the business to add value.

I recently interviewed Oshry Ben-Harush, who I view as a Resident Data Scientist. He helps the business take advantage of these statistical models while driving value to the business.

oddjob3. Data Hackers or Odd Job Data Scientist – In need of further education, can be useful when guided by a “real” Data Scientist. Business Intelligence (BI) folks could fit this role.

This can be good and bad. If you want to become a Data Scientist and are in a BI role this could be your way in, but further education is essential.  As Jones points out, some people don’t realize that.

bluffer-06-064. Data Science Bluffers or MS Office Data Scientists – Stay away!

I’ve encountered these types of people too. The scariest part about Bluffers is they can often catch your eye with impressive slides. They mean well but lack the mathematical education, skills and tools that allow for scale. Ask specific clarifying questions on what tools they used and which mathematical approaches they ruled out before determining the final model.

In a past blog, I spoke about hiring a Data Scientist and using a three step approach: Rent, Hire, and Build. Make sure you know what a Data Scientist is and which one you want before you make the investment.

For those who are already working with and/or hiring Data Scientists, have you come across any other categories? Share your experiences with a comment here. If you’re going to EMC World in Las Vegas May 5-8 let’s meet up to discuss further. I’ll be at EMC Global Services‘ Kickstart Your Cloud booth (#1049) and on the panel for a session on using Big Data to drive results in an IT organization. That session takes place on Wednesday, May 6 from 1-2pm. Hope to see you there!

Frank Coleman

About Frank Coleman

Senior Director, DELL EMC Services

Frank is a Senior Director of Business Operations for Dell EMC Services. He is living the world of Big Data in this role, as he is responsible for using advanced data analytics to improve the customer experience with Dell EMC’s services organization.

This role keeps Frank immersed in Big Data, and he is at the cutting edge of using Big Data to solve real business problems. Frank has a strong blend of technical knowledge and business understanding, and has spent the last nine years focused on the business of service.

Under his leadership, EMC was honored in mid-2012 for the third consecutive year with the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) STAR Award for “Excellence in the Use of Metrics and Business Intelligence.” Prior to joining EMC, Frank worked in various fields and remote technical support roles.

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