Companies are splurging money to hire data scientists but do not know how to use them effectively, Lenovo has claimed.
Mohammed Chaara, director of the Customer Insight Center of Excellence, Strategy & Analytics at Lenovo, said stiff competition for data scientists is seeing companies lure them with large salaries despite having no clear idea of how best to put their talents to use.
"There is a demand for talent, and you're competing with employers who don't even know what they want to do with analytics but are willing to pay the price. So the challenge is both in supply and demand," he told the press at SAS's headquarters in North Carolina.
Chaara's comments chime with those of Jody Porrazzo, data scientist at multinational media company UBM, who told V3 at the SAS Global Forum that the only thing the business understands when it comes to data science and analytics "is that they don't understand it".
Lenovo's Chaara said that the company's analytical talent can be divided into three groups.
"We have those who have recently graduated and have done some cool internship somewhere and they usually come in with knowledge of new technologies, like Hadoop or Spark.
"Then you have these mid-level analytics experts who are very strong on data modelling in a traditional way, but who lack the business acumen to be a leader within the organisation. And, finally, you have a more business-focused group which is really limited to BI and descriptive reporting," he said.
Chaara suggested that a data scientist is someone who should have a working knowledge in all three of those groups, but hiring someone like that is currently a real challenge for many organisations.
To address this, Chaara said the Chinese company has organised four hubs of expertise.
"We have four centres of excellence - four hubs of analytics and multiple teams embedded into the unit. We have about 100 people who are involved with analytics and this has grown drastically over the past two to three years," he said.
Dudley Gwaltney, group vice president and manager of analytical modelling at SunTrust Bank, also addressing the media at the SAS global event, suggested that the main skill he looks for when attempting to hire a data scientist is "intellectual curiosity".
But he admitted that this was an incredibly hard characteristic to measure, and it's not something easily found on a CV either.
Lenovo's Chaara agreed with Gwaltney and added that it was difficult to know whether a candidate has this "intellectual curiosity" in one-on-one interviews either.
Chaara also revealed that Lenovo was using machine learning to analyse unstructured data from YouTube and Instagram.
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