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Differentiating Data Scientists

statisticsIn a field that grew up so quickly, Data Scientists are subject to a number of terms that don’t have a clear definition. ‘Big Data’ means many things to many people, and perhaps even the term ‘Data Scientist’ does as well. One must differentiate between two major types of Data Scientists to fully understand what type of processes are being discussed.

Firstly, a Horizontal Data Scientist is one who has a broad knowledge. Whether computer scientists, statisticians, software engineers, or even predictive modelers, these data scientists can extract copious information from their given field. This type of data scientist values speed and is able to extract data while anticipating errors and weeding out false positives. Their data sets may be flawed, but they have a high success rate of pulling usable information from these sets because of their real world thinking. Horizontal Data Scientists are highly skilled at establishing exactly the question that should be answered, as well as shaping the correct structures and metrics to get there. Often, this type of knowledge comes from experience rather than in-depth knowledge of theoretical conceptions.

On the other hand, we have Vertical Data Scientists, those who “combine vision with technical knowledge,” to quote Mr. Vincent Granville of, “They might not be expert in eigenvalues, generalized linear models and other semi-obsolete statistical techniques, but they know about more modern, data-driven techniques applicable to unstructured, streaming, and big data.” Vertical Data Scientists are the type who are sought out by recruiters, those who come from university programs. Very often, however, university programs in ‘data science’ tend to strive to train either a computer scientist, a statistician, an operations research or a MBA guy, but seldom any combination thereof. Therefore, the big complaint with this type of Data Scientist is that he is often too ‘by the book’, trusting theories over pragmatism and pulling from real-world practicality.

The Modeling Agency is proud that their entire bench is made up of a rare and highly seasoned team of horizontal senior consultants, those who experience is proven by results. Which type of data scientist do you intend to be? If you’d like to learn more about how The Modeling Agency’s training programs can help you see the full picture, read about TMA’s Training Seminars. Not sure you’re ready to dine in? TMA also offers free introductory Webinars.

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