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Changing the World One Byte at the Time

 

Data Scientists are the rock stars of the tech world, and London start-up Pivigo helps them get their mojo 

If you’re in the tech business, pray you’re never tasked with recruiting a Data Scientist. Good ones are rarer than hen’s teeth, and the people lucky enough to have them will fight to the death to keep them. One  foolish company – which shall remain unnamed – that recently made its Data Scientist feel rather unloved. That person casually started exploring options on a Monday, and had his pick of six very attractive job offers by Friday that same week.

Data Scientists are people who not only understand data, but can spot amazing things you can DO with it Click To Tweet

But why, you might ask, are they in such high demand? To put it simply, these are people who not only understand data, but can spot the amazing things you can DO with data, then work with others to turn these insights into products.

Economies are now data-driven, and as we go about our ‘always on,’ constantly connected lives, we’re constantly feeding new data streams into a myriad of different systems. There’s more data out there than ever before, and the sheer volume of it continues to grow exponentially, hence Big Data.

Data Scientists spot trends and stories in these complex goldmines of information, helping companies extract actionable insights from them. They communicate well and work with teams across the company, using their analytical super-powers to help optimize processes and come up with new product and services. A blend of analyst and artist, a good Data Scientist is what you might call a Renaissance person Click To Tweet

Working in the tech industry, I’ve been lucky to work with many gifted individuals over the years. Some were technical geniuses; others had a knack for creating and marketing successful products. Yet it’s very rare to get someone combining both. Those people are Data Scientists. And we need more of them.

And that’s where Kim Nilsson comes in. She co-founded Pivigo in 2013 with Jason Muller to help tackle this chronic industry shortage, and help gifted individuals acquire the right skills to become Data Scientists.

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“The problem is that university degrees are great at teaching you theoretical knowledge such as statistical concepts and logic or programming methods, but horribly bad at teaching you the practical skills that the industry needs. What we offer is a sort of finishing school to those with an academic degree, equipping you with the most up-to-date, commercial skills for instant employability.”

Pivigo works with companies on a sponsorship model that allows them to offer heavily discounted rates for academics looking to acquire those industry skills.

“Academia will always struggle with giving students real experience of working with messy, confusing, and uncoordinated data,” says Nilsson. “We prepare them for working in a commercial environment with deadlines, business priorities, communication problems and the pressure that comes with that.”

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“We’re now building a platform – a trusted data science marketplace – where we can connect data scientists with organisations continuously. We already have a lot of experience working with companies, and delivered over 45 data science projects to clients like KPMG, Royal Mail, British Gas and Marks & Spencer.”

So far, over 200 students from 40 nationalities have graduated from the programme, with over 35% of these being female (a very healthy representation rate in STEM). Nilsson wants to democratise data science even further, however. She’s hoping that Pivigo’s newly launched online course will reach a much bigger audience in a market worth around £4bn globally, and growing 25% per annum.

Pivigo’s newly launched online course will reach a much bigger audience in a market worth around £4bn Click To Tweet

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In this fast-evolving landscape, private initiatives have the advantage of remaining nimble, unlike universities that have to set their curricula years in advance. Nilsson believes it’s crucial for universities to catch up with those standards and speed up learning cycles by incorporating technology tools such as MOOCs into their structure. “Learning should be continuous, adaptive and flexible, with Nano-degrees that can be updated from one month to the next to cover the most recent developments in a field” She says .

Learning should be adaptive and flexible, with Nano-degrees that can be continuously updated Click To Tweet

“There’s also a need to strengthen the prestige and reputation of vocational training and apprenticeships. We need practical skills in society. These may still be of very high complexity, but they must be directly relevant to what industry wants and needs. And this learning is best done on the job.”

Pivigo Screenshot Report Card

 

Alice Bonasio is a VR Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio and @techtrends_tech on Twitter.