July 18, 2015

Data Scientists need a better infographic

By Paul Laughlin

Given my past post around an infographic shared by SalesForce.com (hybrid marketer), I have to comment on this new infographic being shared by MarketingDistillery.com.

At first glance there is much to praise here compared to summaries others have published.

Too many either confuse the specialist nature of a data scientist role with a marketing or customer insight analyst, or neglect the fact that even these geeks need softer skills. On that latter point, I’m pleased to see the importance given to communication & visualisation, which we’ve mentioned before are critical skills for influence. Here it is in full:

Data Scientist infographic from

First, let me return to the point that Data Scientists are not just Customer Insight analysts. This role, as envisioned by Google et al, is much more technology centric. Beyond just having good analytical thinking, numeracy skills and marketing problem solving mindset (as is required for CI analysts), data scientists are expected to be able to mine data & code around IT limitations to find new knowledge & meaningful patterns. MBN Recruitment recently shared a useful warning against confusing these two roles when recruiting.

#DataScientists are not just #CustomerInsight #analysts Click To Tweet

So, I agree with the top half of this infographic, such mathematical & IT skills are needed by today’s data scientists (a role really birthed from past data mining community, c.f. KD Nuggets as the spiritual home of that lineage).

Where I would refine the lists shared by MarketingDistillery is in the bottom half of the page. Many of the bullets in the bottom left make sense but under-emphasise domain knowledge compared to attitudinal statements. Having experienced the challenges when seeking to outsource or off-shore analytics to those who don’t truly understand a business, their customers, strategy & profit levers – I suggest domain knowledge on all these aspects matters.

Under the heading on Communication & Visualisation, whilst I agree with the points listed, an opportunity has been missed to also bring out some of the other softer skills that Laughlin Consultancy has found benefit analysts. Experience with our popular Consultancy Skills training course have shown analysts benefit from strengthening their skills in:

  • Incisive questioning (to get to underlying need)
  • Planning (with 9 step analysis model)
  • Focus on outcome sought (not just technical output)
  • Influencing (building reputation & where to focus)

So, thanks for the infographic, MarketingDistillery. Perhaps someone should produce one for Customer Insight analysts to demonstrate the differences? Do you use such infographics to clarify roles within your organisation?