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Hot commodity: The data scientist

Thursday, August 28, 2014 - 02:29

Competition for data scientists is heating up as their skills become increasingly important to the world's tech companies. Lily Jamali reports.

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Coffee fuels commerce at Cafe Grumpy in New York City. But more and more, so does data. While tech companies have spent years collecting reams of data, just in the last three or four years have they ramped up hiring of the data scientists who interpret it. For Cafe Grumpy's co-owner Caroline Bell, last year's Labor Day data - provided by its payments processor Square - is figuring into this year's inventory and staffing decisions. SOUNDBITE: CAROLINE BELL, CO-OWNER, CAFE GRUMPY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I want to see how many sales we had that day so we can decide how much stuff I might need, or also I can see what hours were the busiest so I maybe I want to reduce my hours for that day." Square now shares these analytics with clients. So has the data scientist become the barista's best friend? Square spokesperson Faryl Ury. SOUNDBITE: FARYL URY, SPOKESPERSON, SQUARE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We've always used data scientists to help our merchants. So one of the biggest things that's important to Square is the idea that we help businesses gather their data and then present it to them in a way that's really easy to understand and digestible." REPORTER ON CAMERA: LILY JAMALI, REUTERS REPORTER (ENGLISH) SAYING: "This is KDD, an annual gathering of data scientists, and a gold mine for recruiters from some of the world's largest tech companies." A recruiter from one said he came here on a mission to hire 50 people..armed with salaries to impress. Claudia Perlich is this year's KDD conference Chair. SOUNDBITE: CLAUDIA PERLICH, CHAIRPERSON, 2014 KDD CONFERENCE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I have heard numbers from the Bay Area where supposedly, beginning salaries are north of 200K at this point" But Perlich says money has its limits. Many data scientists prioritize jobs where they can hone their skills - or where they like the team. Perks help too. Take online video company Livestream, where meals are free. At Borderfree, which helps retailers process transactions in nations around the world, CEO Mike DeSimone says the tech team's work is indispensible. SOUNDBITE: MIKE DESIMONE, CHAIRPERSON, 2014 KDD CONFERENCE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We've used analytics to help our retailers understand who's buying what kinds of categories - what kind of brands - even down to colors and sizes in different markets." He says being able to spot trends - like the strength of the children's clothing category in, say, Russia has strengthened his business boosting demand for data scientists in the process. Judging by the volume of job listings, that doesn't appear to be changing. Back at Cafe Grumpy, there will be fewer pastries on its shelves this holiday weekend. You can chalk that up to data.

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Hot commodity: The data scientist

Thursday, August 28, 2014 - 02:29