The Best Data Scientists Get Out and Talk to People

January 30, 2017

You can be a good data scientist by sitting at your computer. After all, the job description involves poring through huge quantities of often disparate data to find insights that may prove helpful in every aspect of a business, including marketing, logistics, and human resources. It also includes cleaning data, dealing with gaps, and sifting through incomplete poor definitions.

But great data scientists know they must do more. They recognize that there are nuances and quality issues in the data that they can't understand while sitting at their desks. They recognize that the world is filled with "soft data," relevant sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures that are yet to be digitized -- and hence are unavailable to those working at their computers. (Think of things like the electricity in the air at a political rally and the fear in the eyes of an executive faced with an unexpected threat.) They know they must understand the larger context, the real problems and opportunities, how decision makers decide, and how their predictions will be used.

Thomas C. Redman

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