Data scientists are hot commodities these days. Although just 0.2% of US companies employ single data scientists, starting salaries in the field topped $200,000 last year. By 2018, McKinsey predicts a 50-60% shortfall between demand for data scientists' deep analytic skills and the extant supply.

Things don't get much better on data scientists' home turf. Although Big Data is a huge buzzword in the information technology and services sector, just 0.3% of those companies employ a data scientist.

If your marketing team is searching for its first data scientist, it's hardly alone.

Where are the data scientists?

Part of the reason many marketers are having difficulty finding data scientists is because they're looking in the wrong places.

Unlike many from the business world, most data scientists aren't trawling company job boards. Many are academics by trade—particularly in fields like mathematics, engineering, and computer science—and must be coaxed out by corporate recruiters. For example, Yelp's Chris Farrell was drawn to the business world after completing a Ph.D. in astrophysics and spending years parsing data from a particle accelerator.

Much like Farrell, I began in the applied sciences. Although I now work as Jumpshot's vice-president of data science, I'm an engineer by training. I earned two bachelor's degrees from University of California-Berkeley (one in material science engineering and one in mechanical engineering) and a bachelor's degree in economics from University of California-Santa Cruz. I'm a marketer now, but I sure didn't plan to be during my college years.

How can data scientists help marketers?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Hong Tsui

Hong Tsui is vice-president of data science at Jumpshot, a San Francisco-based startup that offers marketing analytics for travel, retail, and media companies.

LinkedIn: Hong Tsui