... but there IS an 'i' in 'data scientist'

Do data scientists deserve recognition themselves, or just as part of a team?

gears on diagram

In a recent FCW article on growing demand for data scientists a reader wrote:

This goes in the 'duh' column. It was a team of talented (some greatly so, some not so great because we are all humans) that got us to the moon and all returned safely. The problem always has been those at the top trying to make a name for themselves don't understand the concept of a team effort. Too much TV where one guy (The Mentalist) solves the problem and all around him are his minions. No understanding of team at all.

Frank Konkel responds:  As a profession, data scientists are relatively new in the IT world. As the profession develops, it’s likely we’ll see more talented, curious individuals coming up with insightful ways to approach the massive stacks of data already piling up in government and private sector, and it is highly likely they’ll be integral members of teams. We’ve already seen successes from these teams – the Central Intelligence Agency, for example – yet don’t doubt the importance of sometimes singularly insightful individuals.

I’m not saying some Albert Einstein-like data ninja who eats stovepipes of data for breakfast and spits out revolutionary tidbits that save mankind is going to come along, but given the relative newness of this field, isn’t it possible that a few unique individuals might make major impacts in either results or policy-driven initiatives? Kirit Amin, deputy chief information officer and chief technology officer of the U.S. Department of Commerce, said as much recently, suggesting a few “big data Yodas” in government might blaze a big data path for the rest of the sector to follow

Teams are great, but don’t forget, individuals can be too.

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