Which Came First: The Data Scientist or the Millennial?

6 min read

Why are millennials so pervasive in tech these days? The answer is simpler than you might think.

It’s no coincidence that a math-heavy, technological discipline that requires complex statistical analysis, communication and design skills has reached its peak at a time when the millennial workforce is now the majority in businesses around the world.

Statisticians, programmers, computer scientists, and designers have been around as long as many of us can remember, but it is only within the last 10 years that “data scientists” have come to merge all of these disciplines into one job title.

At the most basic level, a data scientist takes massive amounts of data, interprets and analyzes it, then makes it usable and easily consumable.

A Computer Revolution

It was around 30 years ago that computers became household items. About 20 years ago that the internet transformed the way we use those machines.

Since that time, throughout the lifespan of the millennial generation, technology has become pervasive in our culture.

Most of us understand “intrusive” technology (social networks, smart phones, online shopping sites predicting our needs, etc.). But it’s the “background” of today’s technology that dictates the needs for people with the unique qualities described above.

For example: a pipeline company has thousands of miles of underground infrastructure, making visible inspections impossible. With today’s technology, we can attach sensors directly to these pipelines. These sensors take readings on everything from flow to maintenance issues. That means thousands of data points generated per second!

A data scientist takes that data, visualizes it and then plots it to gain intuition on what is happening. From there they can generate new variables when applicable, apply machine learning, then interpret and disseminate the data in an understandable output model.

You can find countless articles, seminars, and speculations about millennials. If you ask the person next to you about their opinion on this generation, chances are that they have plenty of opinions, whether good or bad.

The Millennial Takeover

The truth is, millennials are the most educated generation in America’s history and are the first generation to be completely “wired.” In general, they are multitaskers. They prefer to work in collaboration, have a need for instant gratification, and do not settle for status quo.

These are perfect qualities for someone who needs to make sense of the nonsensical. Millennials are skilled enough technically to wrangle massive amounts of information, learned enough to interpret large amounts of data logically, and creative enough to make it all easily understood.

These advances in technology happened at a time when Baby Boomers raised their children to value unique characteristics. This makes it possible to marry multiple disciplines into one, seemingly disparate job description, namely, math and creativity.

So, perhaps it’s not a matter of solving the conundrum “which came first.” Maybe we should just be grateful for the perfect storm of circumstance that brought it to fruition.

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