Challenge: The checklist of desirable attributes in a data scientist include a creative and well spoken systems architect, quantitative analyst, software engineer, and business analyst that's practiced in data integration and data visualization. So it's no wonder the data scientist is the unicorn of the industry. It also explains why firms have found it almost impossible to hire one, and apparently just as difficult to keep one from being poached.
Why it's important: Still, as investment in big data grows, and as big data analysis becomes more important for competitive advantage, it is critical to find data analysts proficient enough to use the technology, generate reports, and deliver insights. McKinsey Global Institute estimated that by 2018 there will be 4 million big data related positions in the US and a shortage of up to 190,000 data scientists. There's also a need for folks who aren't quite full-fledged data scientists, but are data savvy nonetheless.
Where the industry is now: Fortunately, universities are helping to turn out a greater number of data scientists. Last year, only a few schools offered degrees that focus on data science. Today there is a broader selection, with more universities looking to offer similar programs. Many are launching in January 2015.
Read the rest of this story on Wall Street & Technology.