Big Data // Big Data Analytics
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11/15/2013
08:00 AM
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Want Big Data Success? Hire a Biologist

Not all data scientists need a math or economics background. It's time to think outside the box come hiring time.

(Source: Getty)
(Source: Getty)

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Yukon
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Yukon,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/19/2013 | 3:09:38 PM
support to the biologists
I have had some exceptional students from the conservation biology Ph.D. program in my graduate level regression class.  Although their statistics backgrounds tend to be weaker than those of our own statistics students, they make up for it with an excellent study ethic (data collection in the Florida swamps as an arduous alternative), an appreciation for temporal and spatial variables (not just generic X's as predictor variables), an inherent grasp of hypotheses and tentative models, and considerable experience in documenting their work.  These students are certainly experienced at writing reports and explaining the results in a fashion understandable to the general public (goes with the conservation biology territory I guess).   Finally, those students who have collected data themselves in the field, have a healthy appreciation and skepticism for the examples presented in class.
Alison Diana
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Alison Diana,
User Rank: Moderator
11/19/2013 | 9:53:00 AM
Creativity Key
Many folks I speak to say they look for creative people, folks with liberal arts degrees and natural curiousity. While these people can learn big data, their inherent skills will provide them with the keys to success within big data careers. I thought this was interesting, since liberal arts degrees have been panned for so long. 
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
11/18/2013 | 10:16:52 AM
Re: Big Data what?
I like the hire a 'wild card' advice here. Some of the smartest CIOs will tell you when you hire, you must find people who are not just like you -- otherwise you will just listen to yourself talk, no one will challenge your ideas. You need diversity of experience in IT teams. In this age of big data, that is only more true. I hope hiring managers will think outside the box a bit. IT hiring has become too bogged down looking for exact matches to crazy requirements lists, don't you think?
BethSchultz
IW Pick
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BethSchultz,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/18/2013 | 10:16:34 AM
Re: Outside the box
@Shane, I agree that this is spot-on advice. To be effective, a data science team working with big data needs people who can do the math and know the computer science and create the models, but the results of their work will only be as good as their ability to communicate them to the business. That's where the insight and innovation that non-traditional data analysts can bring to the team really shine.
Kim Davis
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Kim Davis,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/15/2013 | 4:39:28 PM
Re: Big what?
Big data is vague (how big?), and also non-specific (the challenges of analysing vast quantities of numerical data on one server are different from those of analysig unstructured data dispersed over a number of servers): but I fear we're stuck with the term.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 1:43:17 PM
Big what?
I'm hoping we can get past the term "big data" and move to something more specific. 
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 9:04:17 AM
Outside the box
This is spot on. People from all lines of work are interested in the stories data can tell and the insights and business results it can produce. If we leave all data analysis up to traditional mathematicians and statisticians, we may not see the big picture. 
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