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SAN JOSE, Calif. —August 6, 2013 — FICO (NYSE:FICO), a leading predictive analytics and decision management software company, today released an infographic showing the characteristics of a good data scientist — what a Harvard Business Review article called the “sexiest job of the 21st century.”

The rise of Big Data has fueled demand for data scientists. Indeed.com reported that job postings for analytic scientists jumped 15,000 percent between the summer of 2011 and 2012. McKinsey & Company predicted the U.S. will see a 50- to 60-percent shortfall in analytic scientists by 2018.

“There’s more demand than ever for data scientists, but at the same time we demand more from job candidates,” said Dr. Andrew Jennings, chief analytics officer at FICO and head of FICO Labs. “FICO has been hiring data scientists — or analysts, as we used to call them — since 1956. We’ve learned that excellent math skills alone just aren’t enough. We want someone who can solve problems for businesses, and explain their insights to people who don’t have a Ph.D. in operations research.”

The FICO infographic identifies eight characteristics of a good data scientist. These include the ability to tease out insights from data, communicate with business users and focus on the practical applications of their work.

“When we hire a data scientist, we look for someone who wants to speak to our clients,” said John Tobin, who leads hiring for FICO, and who previously co-founded an agency focused on hiring analysts and credit risk experts. “Data scientists generally are abstract thinkers — the rarest ones are those who can easily communicate to a business audience. That’s the sweet spot.”

Demand to fill the talent gap with good data scientists is pushing up salaries for the right candidates. “We’re entering a new age of analytic competition,” Jennings said. “This is a great time to be a data scientist, but only companies offering the chance to do interesting and meaningful work are succeeding in hiring them.”

The Anatomy of a Data Scientist can be viewed and downloaded at www.fico.com/anatomy.  

About FICO
FICO (NYSE: FICO) is a leading analytics software company, helping businesses in 80+ countries make better decisions that drive higher levels of growth, profitability and customer satisfaction. The company’s groundbreaking use of Big Data and mathematical algorithms to predict consumer behavior has transformed entire industries. FICO provides analytics software and tools used across multiple industries to manage risk, fight fraud, build more profitable customer relationships, optimize operations and meet strict government regulations. Many of our products reach industry-wide adoption — such as the FICO® Score, the standard measure of consumer credit risk in the United States. FICO solutions leverage open-source standards and cloud computing to maximize flexibility, speed deployment and reduce costs. The company also helps millions of people manage their personal credit health.

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The key characteristics of an analyst ( the title data scientist is a marketing term) is critical thinking and systemic thinking. A skeptical perspective is needed to filter the noise (excessive correlations)and the ability to present not only the results but to make transparent the data, the assumptions, the excluded varaiables, the biases and the limits of the results is a true "scientist". Others should be considered data marketing creators.

Many analysts are infotainers. Creating data visualizations that entertain. Few are capable of representing the facts whether good or bad. How many times do you see an analyst stand up and state " we failed". Our experiment showed no relevant correlations and absolutely no causations. Science is comprised of many failures so until data scientists are willing to present their failures, I suggest we continue to refer to them as analysts.

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