One of my colleagues recently asked if I'd do him a favor and discuss opportunities with a “data scientist” friend of his. I agreed, and the friend and I had a nice discussion about his insurance/risk modeling background. Over the years, he's done interesting work combining knowledge of the industry with SPSS predictive models, supported by the data engineering capabilities of his company's IT department. In the end, though, I confided to my colleague that I pegged the friend as a business analytics expert rather than as a data scientist.

A data scientist to my thinking has business knowledge and is skilled in both computation and statistics/machine learning. I kind of like the saying that data scientists can program better than statisticians and have more statistical chops than programmers. Many in the industry, though, equate a data scientist with a business statistician.

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