If Data Scientist is the Sexiest Profession of the 21st Century, then Critical Thinking is the Sexiest Professional Skill to have in the 21st Century.
By now, I am sure you all have read - or at the very least heard - about the article written in Harvard Business Review determining that the Data Scientist profession was the sexiest job of the 21st Century. We here at The Chicago Analytics Group could not agree more; however, along with that declaration come a few significant justifications that have necessary fundamentals.
There are numerous reasons why the Data Scientist role is so sexy.
A few of these reasons include an increasingly large demand for these positions, comprising a current, massive shortage of qualified individuals; the work a Data Scientist does is critical to the growth and prosperity of many large companies, often on the cutting edge of technology and innovation; and those working in the Data Scientist role are generally paid a lofty compensation package. The primary goals of such Data Scientists are generally to unlock critical data insights and present key findings which will optimize and revolutionize operational and solution-based strategies.
Part of the increase in the sexiness – if you will – regarding the Data Scientist role runs parallel to the outputs of the digital and analytics revolutions that have been taking place over the past decade. The utilization of vast amounts of data, and to take it a step further – the demand to make sense of all that data, making it actionable in strategic ways to achieve measurable goals – has become paramount and integrated into the growth strategies of major corporations on a global scale.
We are not just talking about Big Data, Predictive and Prescriptive analytics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and now even Deep Learning; but we are living in the era where strategies are forming around the common acceptance and utilization of these advanced data processing and analytical techniques, to produce real results.
Data Scientists play a major role in advancing these cutting edge analytical techniques to improve product and service offerings, to revolutionize operational efficiencies, and to contribute to their company’s bottom lines.
The Data Scientist role is sexy for a reason. Increases in advanced Technology, utilization of advanced Analytical Techniques, and growing acceptance of Data Science as a legitimate source to advance a company in various critical ways have all acted as a catalyst to propel the Data Scientist role into the spotlight.
And as such, you can bet the large demand for Data Scientists is not only very real, but growing at a lightning quick rate. Consequently, the demand for Data Science-related degrees, certifications, and specialty courses and boot camps have increased substantially recently to try to equip future, budding Data Scientists with the skills and experience needed to fill these vacant and recently needed roles.
So, why is the shortage of Data Scientists continuing to expand in today’s labor markets?
There are a lot of potential reasons for this, such as there not being enough qualified candidates – in both skill and experience – to fill these roles, lack of affordable and attainable educational resources to become a qualified Data Scientist, possible intimidation of such an advanced and technical role within a company, and quite simply – in economic terms – the demand for Data Scientists is far outpacing the supply of Data Scientists, which is the very definition of an economic shortage.
Now, after researching and talking with experts in both the Human Resource and Data Science fields, coupled with the learnings from the mentorship The Chicago Analytics Group has provided to many of its members throughout the last several years, we believe one of the potential reasons for the growing shortage of Data Scientists in today’s labor markets is even more simple than we originally thought.
This shortage, at one of its most basic and fundamental derivatives, may be attributable to the simple lack of professional Critical Thinking skills of active participants in the labor market.
Think about it (critically) if you will.
The entire Data Science field is comprised of very well educated, experienced, and highly skilled advanced analytics professionals who have the right balance of quantitative and qualitative tools to set up, transform, analyze, and produce data products and deliverables which answer real business questions.
Although the technical side of the necessary make-up of a successful Data Scientist is generally very finely tuned to their data environment and industry they work in, there are some necessary skills that go a long way in aiding the successful Data Scientist in achieving their ultimate goals, which much of the time runs parallel to the business goals of their organization (i.e. increases in innovation, growth, profit). One of the absolute top professional skills we believe that aides a Data Scientist in becoming successful in their profession and industry, achieving real business goals, is the development of Critical Thinking skills.
While many active participants in the labor markets today may be pursuing additional degrees, certifications, or specialty courses and boot camps; one of the most quintessential business skills they should be continuing to build along their professional development is their Critical Thinking skillset.
While this may seem obvious or even antiquated in many of today’s hyper competitive business industries, Critical Thinking is fundamentally necessary to compete for advanced analytics professions, such as the sexy Data Scientist roles that are in such high demand right now.
The need for advanced Critical Thinking skills in today’s industrial landscape simply cannot be undervalued or underappreciated. The possession of advanced Critical Thinking skills does much for the analytics professional, most notably the Data Scientist. In a lot of ways, Critical Thinking allows the Data Scientist to bridge the gap between technical expertise and real business opportunities and solutions.
These skills allow the Data Scientist to question the various data methods, strategies, and probable outcomes with what most closely resembles the optimal solution for a real business opportunity; and with that, potentially improve every single step of their own Data Science process.
In many ways, the possession of Critical Thinking skills by the Data Scientist allow them to not only produce more valuable data products and deliverables, but also do it more efficiently.
These same Critical Thinking skills allow the Data Scientist to keep the data science projects they are working on closely aligned with strategic business goals, and boost value for their departments and companies.
If one of the viable outcomes from having a Data Scientist onboard your team is to create data strategies, solutions, and operational efficiencies; why not start with the Data Science process as a whole? Instead of just focusing on results delivered to the department or organizational head, why not also fine tune how we got there, improve our own operational and solutions-based analytics roadmap? In these ways, the possession of Critical Thinking skills by the Data Scientist further creates and captures value for both their department and organization as a whole.
Of course, these are just a few examples of how Critical Thinking can lead to fundamental Data Science success. There are far too many to name, but what we want to stress is the importance of these Critical Thinking skills in evaluating Data Science candidates, departments, and even the data products and deliverables from such individuals and departments.
Critical Thinking skills are one of the most highly desirable professional characteristics in the labor markets today, and especially in the search for qualified Data Scientists.
As the Data Scientist has become the Sexiest Profession of the 21st Century, the Critical Thinking skillset has become the Sexiest Professional Set of Skills to have in the 21st Century.
If you are looking to improve your Critical Thinking skillset, please check out the following article from Harvard Business Review (written by John Baldoni) with links to expert resources in it: How Leaders Should Think Critically (HBR).
All the best,
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