Is “big data” a passing trend?

It seems like these days everyone is trying to do “big data” research, and even more people are marketing themselves as “data scientists.” There are accelerated “data science” courses at nearly every online university. Everyone wants to get into the game.

“Big data” is sexy, but is it simply a trend? There is a saying among investors: When your taxi driver starts to tell you about a stock, it is time to start thinking about selling. By that reasoning, some may think that “big data” research has peaked.

Don’t worry, “Big data” is here to stay. Unlike stock price speculation, data science is not a zero sum game. It fills a growing need. Whether that need is academic or industrial, insights can be gained from analyzing large datasets. Despite the trendiness (relatively) few people have the skills necessary to unlock these possibilities.

These skills are not limited to computer programming or statistics, although these competencies are definitely a requirement. However, even more than the specific skills required, I believe that a certain mindset is important for data scientists. This mindset is what allows a researcher to make the transition from “I am interested in studying this phenomena.” to “Here is HOW I can study this phenomena”

These skills make a good data scientist extremely valuable in industry or academia. With the amount of data being produced daily increasing exponentially, the possibilities available from “big data” will only get larger, and these skills are only going to increase in demand.