Google’s Chief Economist Hal Varian on Statistics and Data

Feb 25, 2009

I keep saying the sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians. People think I’m joking, but who would’ve guessed that computer engineers would’ve been the sexy job of the 1990s?

Hal Varian, The McKinsey Quarterly, January 2009

Varian then goes on to say:

The ability to take data – to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades, not only at the professional level but even at the educational level for elementary school kids, for high school kids, for college kids. Because now we really do have essentially free and ubiquitous data. So the complimentary scarce factor is the ability to understand that data and extract value from it.

I think statisticians are part of it, but it’s just a part. You also want to be able to visualize the data, communicate the data, and utilize it effectively. But I do think those skills – of being able to access, understand, and communicate the insights you get from data analysis – are going to be extremely important. Managers need to be able to access and understand the data themselves.

Wait a minute. Is this a pitch for FlowingData? I think so :). Check out the full article for more (or listen to the podcast). It’s an interesting read.

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