this is a second note on the role of data scientist... some links to
Harvard Business Review
this is a second note on the role of data scientist... some links to
Harvard Business Review
Twice this week I've encountered the newish title "Data Scientist" and have been struggling to understand what that role might entail. The first place I came across the title was in an article in the Teradata online magazine:
The second occurance was in an client's office where the subject came up and we speculated on the nature of the role.
If "Data Scientist" is the new, in demand, thing then as a provided of IT services I should understand what this talent actually is. But, after reading the above article I was still at a loss to come up with a job description, skills inventory, or experience level that would qualify someone (like me or someone I know) as a "Data Scientist". After a day or two I was still struggling for a definition, so I made one up.
Intuitively, we can split the title into Data and Scientist and derive a literal meaning. Data: has extensive experience with the research, study and analysis of data and information in its many forms (structured, unstructured, human or machine readable, cleansed or not, fully qualified through metadata or not, modeled or not, etc.). Scientist (picture lab coats and clipboards): someone who has an understanding of and expertise with the Scientific Method:
This leads me to believe there would be basic research* and uncertainty associated with the role and its deliverables. The outcomes may not be known at the outset and there would be some risk that no value is realized from the process. These Data Scientists would work in environments where solutions would evolve over time and change would have to be anticipated. It also implies we don't know what we don't know at the beginning and therefore we'd be advised to proceed with caution.
Alternatively, Data Scientist is a new definition for a Senior Business Consultant and Technical Data Analyst and Data Subject Matter expert.
My contrarian side fears it may actually be the role of a "Data Pseudo-Scientist" should Baconian methods not be implemented as rigourously as required and/or lacking peer reviewed results. Which leads to the question: Is Data Scientist a marketing derived title being used to create a sense of awe around a role that is not well understood or defined. Bear in mind, this expert would come at a high billable rate due to their highly specialized and esoteric skills.
Is the Data Scientist to be the new silver bullet resource, positioned to solve seemingly unsolvable Big Data challenges?
If we're still looking for silver bullet solutions, I think this indicates that rigour around managing large volumes of data, data quality, database and data based management issues, data governance, metadata management have become the elephants in the room. As such we are choosing to live with but ignore these elephants while we deal with the new distraction object called Big Data. We can't use the old titles to deal with Big Data and not deal with these other issues so we've created this new title to obfuscate our failure to deal with our elephants.
I've derived three meaning or definitions for Data Scientist:
1) Data specialist applying the scientific method to data problems
2) A business consultant and technical data specialist and data subject matter expert
3) Data Pseudo-scientist silver bullet distracting from our elephants solution
I really hope it turns out to be 1 or 2 and not 3.
*"Basic Research is what I am doing when I don't know what I am doing" Werner VonBraun
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change." Charles Darwin
It's that time of year again... winding down 2012, ramping up 2013. What changes can we expect next year?
I see a significant shift in Data Warehousing to do more and more reporting out of OLTP systems and less reliance on OLAP systems. I don't see EDWs going away quickly, but over time they will evolve into something less OLAPish and more closely tide to real time source data and systems of record.
I've always advocated not moving data from the systems of record to reporting environments, or if necessary move it as little as possible.
Data is like perishable fruit, the more you move it the less valuable it becomes. Latency causes it to spoil and become stale.
Performance characteristics on OLTP systems are now starting to allow for OLAP on the same platform - or at least closer to the system of record, and in near real time.
There's my prediction for the future.
some crazy Australian rode a weather balloon into the upper stratosphere on the weekend and the from 75000 ft. jumped out. being the first person to skydive from space (or at least the outer atmosphere - as high as helium can take you) .
I'm writing this on the subway. there is a pretty young girl sitting across from me, reading "Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglas, an American Slave".
this stream of consciousness. this aesthetic. from skydivers to slaves. of lives lived. in all their variety . From Plato, "what is good, Phadreus, and what is not good and who need tell us these things?"
it is a beautiful day to be sentient.
Does life surprize you or confuse you?
The book, "The Black Swan," talks about events that come out of left field and surprise us.
A great example is 911. Two things that baffled me about 911, the coordinated successful operation and the colapse of the buildings. I remember thinking how could someone hate that much to commit such henious act.
The Black Swan suggests that we may have the wrong users manual on life. When they happen we try to make sense of it in hindsight, but really we are just deluding ourselves. If lawmakers warned us and caused us to increase security of the cockpit, we would complain about all the cost increase of flights. Clearly no believing that such an event was possible.
See what I mean about us not having the right user manual.
Another observation is that some disasterous IT projects that have driven companies out of business. Clearly these decision makers have the wrong user manual.
I commit personally to spend the rest of my life trying to find the "Right User Manual." Remember life is a pligrimage not a destination.
Jim, a friend of mine, was a summer student hired by the Federal Government to work in Kenora to work on implementing giving First Nations people the vote. This was an important initiative by the governement and Prime Minister Diffenbaker came to give the program his support. Jim was one of the people in the car that was taking him to his hotel. The hotel where he was staying had recently refused to allow a first nations person stay at the hotel.
Jim, at some personal risk, told Diffenbaker in the car about this and Diffenbaker decided to switch to another hotel.
Many of us would have been reluctant to speak up from a very junior position when his superiors had decided where the Prime Minister would stay. His example inspires me to stand up for my principles.
Graham Boundy and Harvey Gellman would often say that this book would have made a good article. Recently I read a peice that suggested expressing your ideas in a poem was much more efficient. So maybe often a book should have been a poem.
I have not completely digested the idea but poetry leaves much more to the reader and does not have to be linear. However some the best ideas are expressed in poems.
However the reader must work on what the message means to them as opposed to the poet's message.
This I find a fascinating idea especially for complex ideas that can said simply in a poem.
"Save time with rhyme,
Can you get a message that is sent from the heart
I want to help without all the prose
Just follow your nose
Trusting the reader to read with heart
Means everyone has done their part"
Now wasn't that fun.
Here is what Joseph Brodsky says:
“The way to develop good taste in literature is to read poetry,” he wrote. “[It] is not only the most concise, the most condensed way of conveying the human experience; it also offers the highest possible standards for any linguistic operation — especially one on paper.
“The more one reads poetry, the less tolerant one becomes of any sort of verbosity, be that in political or philosophical discourse, be that in history, social studies or the art of fiction. Good style in prose is always hostage to the precision, speed and laconic intensity of poetic diction. A child of epitaph and epigram, conceived indeed as a shortcut to any conceivable subject matter, poetry to prose is a great disciplinarian.
“It teaches the latter not only the value of each word but also the mercurial mental patterns of the species, alternatives to linear composition, the knack of omitting the self-evident, emphasis on detail, the technique of anticlimax.”
Sometimes we are annoyed when someone takes a controversial position in a discussion or meeting. We want people to agree with our position and do not like contrary opinions. However often if we are open to listening we can learn some important things. Often the senior people dislike contrary opinions and dismiss them. They do not appreciate that the most value comes from contrary opinions and not "the yes men."
Sometimes we are so intent on pushing our own ideas we fail to see the value in other points of view.
Often I have taken positions that are contrary to the "party line' and have found my ideas ignore. Maybe I need to find new ways to express my ideas in more palatable.
I often think of the fable about the King's new clothes. The little boy was ignored because he was stating the obvious, not the popular position.
Has anybody noticed I have not publish a blog since July 17th? If you missed me and would like to see more, please let me know by a comment or a Like.
Do you dismiss opinions that do not jibe with you view of the world? Do you consider that they may be seeing things from a different perspective?
I find seeing the others point of view when is not alignned with mine very difficult.
I just heard a story that one person objected to the actions of a committee of a volunteer organization. The person accused the committee of acting contrary to the organization's constitution. The whole issue became very devisive and resulted in most of the executive resigning. The objector even threatened people. I suspect the organization may not survive. As the saying goes, "One bad apple can spoil the barrel."
Because of the person's attacks, the other people got their backs up and were unable to see the person's point of view. I wonder if somebody had seen both sides and acted as a mediator would a resolution been found without putting the whole organization in jeopardy?
In many situations, we often dismiss the person's objections as a personal attack and the motivation as destructive. That means trouble.
Look at the others point of view from their vantage point and maybe a new reso;ution can be found that meets everybody's objections.
So many meeting these days are held on the phone rather than in person around a table. How to manage effective meetings? In person meeting are challenge enough and often are not done well. Adding the complexity of a phone meeting, adds significant challenge for all participants, especially the chairman or facilitator.
I recall a great video by John Cleese called Meeting Bloody Meeting which is a fabulous training film. See a preview on youtube Preview Meeting Bloody Meetings.
I have noticed many people really are not participants in phone meeting and I suspect are doing other things while the meeting progresses. If the person is only there for information and a active participant, then maybe that is OK, but I am not sure.
The chairperson who is keeping people engaged by asking peoples input is really important. Do not assume silence means anything. Keep a list of all participants and actively ask individual's opinions. Also at the beginnning of the meeting, going around the table to bring everybody into the meeting by getting some input on something relatively uncontroversial. A simple update from each person would be a good warmup A good warmup is as key to the success of a meeting as a good agenda.
I wonder how many people have any training on phone meetings. We spend so much time on these things wouldn't it be smart to become more effective.
I would like to hear any ideas people have about this subject and any training that is available.
Why do we all have such difficulty listening to others? For me I often distracted by my thinking about what I am going to say next. I am thinking "How can I share my ideas" rather than find out what the other person thinks.
How can I make myself more curious about what the other person thinks and learn from them as opposed to try to show how smart I am.
I am going to try some really open questions for the next week. Let me give you some examples:
I will report how well I do and see if it improves my listening. Thoughts?
When Dan Pink asked Tom Peters what was the most important principle from his book 'In Search of Excellence', he said without hesitation "A Bias for Action." Dan Pink thens asked what was the second of the eight and after a long pause he said "A Bias for Action.'
He said he got in trouble with McKinsey because they wanted emphasis on STRATEGY. They created great strategies for clients that they could not implement. I have seen this over and over again. I see it happening when ever a large consulting group is hired for to develop a strategy. I am amazed often that the organization survive these grand strategies.
My approach was always developing plans that produced Rapid Results in the context of a strategy that set direction. For example direction set in the Ten Commandment or the Golden Rule, as opposed to the whole Old Testement.
How many companies have strangled themselves with the Grand Strategic Plan? I bet you can think of several.
A company did not take my advice went with the big plan and three years later and millions of dollars later they had nothing to show for the great inventory management system that was attempted. I felt really badly that I could not sell them on my approach but they wanted the GRAND plan, not action.
I am so pleased that I have discovered Tom Peters agrees with me.
Some ideas from a writing coach's blog I follow. see http://www.publicationcoach.com/blog/
As I got older, I have become more interested in my genealogy. However I have learned that the dates are less important than the family stories. I really did not learn many from my grandparents but wish I had asked more.
A friend of mine had the same idea and asked a bunch of us to what questions we wished we had asked our grandparents. His idea would be to compose a list and then write some answer for his grandkids.
The list is quite extensive so I will not repeat it here, but if you are interested I could send it to you.
I must get on with answering these questions.
Do you have a delighted customer or client? I bet you are in demand.
Harvey Gellman, my mentor and business partner, had a saying "Give the client ten percent more than they expect."
Don't just meet their expectations but exceed them.
That is really a very stretching goal as a consultant but great to keep in mind.
One thing a delighted client will do is ask for more help. You become a star and the go to person for lots of things outside you specialty. Being in demand from clients is gold to the consultant.
This came to mind when a friend wrote on Facebook how thrilled he was to get excellent customer service from ETR407, a Toronto electronic toll road. He was also surprised. I said he should let them know and he said he would not want to get the agent in trouble. How sad is that.
However I think many people's expectations are low and so when we exceed them we stand out in the crowd.
However I do not have any truck with talking about giving 110%, That makes not sense, I am talking about expextations.
What can you do today to exceed someone's expectations?
Then share in a comment.
Project X Ltd Toronto, Ontario, Canada Stephen Hayward, Graham Boundy Database, Datawarehouse, Data Warehouse, DB2, Netezza, Oracle, SQL Server,
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Microstrategy eBusiness, xBusiness, web, SOA, EAI,AJAX, Web Services, Service Oriented
Architecture, Actional, Systinet Advisory Services, Consulting, Corporate Strategy, Alignment, Project Management, Sourcing Strategy, Offshoring Strategy, Software Delivery Models, Rapid Results, Breakthrough, Innovation, High Performance Organizations Offshore Vendors: Infosys, iGATE, Wipro, Satyam, Tata TCS, Hexaware, Patni, HCL, Keane, CGI, IBM Systems Integration: CGI, EDS, Cap Gemini, Keane, IBM, CSC Datawarehousing: Adastra, Thoughtcorp, Loyal Metrics, Red Sky Data, Keyrus Advisory: Accenture, McKinsey, AT Kearney
Project X Ltd
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Stephen Hayward, Graham Boundy
Database, Datawarehouse, Data Warehouse, DB2, Netezza, Oracle, SQL Server, Teradata, Enterprise Data Warehouse, Active Data Warehouse, Data Mart
Data Integration, ETL, ELT, EII, ESB, AB Initio, Ascential, Informatica, Ipedo, Sunopsis, Data SOA, Information as a Service
Business Intelligence, Reporting Tools, Business Objects, Cognos,Hyperion, Microstrategy
eBusiness, xBusiness, web, SOA, EAI,AJAX, Web Services, Service Oriented Architecture, Actional, Systinet
Advisory Services, Consulting, Corporate Strategy, Alignment, Project Management, Sourcing Strategy, Offshoring Strategy, Software Delivery Models, Rapid Results, Breakthrough, Innovation, High Performance Organizations
Offshore Vendors: Infosys, iGATE, Wipro, Satyam, Tata TCS, Hexaware, Patni, HCL, Keane, CGI, IBM
Systems Integration: CGI, EDS, Cap Gemini, Keane, IBM, CSC
Datawarehousing: Adastra, Thoughtcorp, Loyal Metrics, Red Sky Data, Keyrus
Advisory: Accenture, McKinsey, AT Kearney