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How Many Data Scientists Does the World Really Need?
CIO.com, November 7 

While there is a growing trend toward hiring recent graduates versed in big data, the reality is that most firms will address their big data challenges by training employees they already have. For now, say experts, the rush to mint highly trained, highly educated data scientists may be getting overhyped, especially since the IT industry is still in beginning stages of big data usage and relevance. While companies are certainly looking for workers with statistical and predictive modeling backgrounds, they also need people with both the patience and expertise to parse data and use it to make decisions.
For many smaller and mid-sized firms, the hype surrounding big data doesn't resonate, and probably won't translate into hiring, because the challenges those businesses face aren't truly related to big data. A lot of companies don't actually have big data problems -- they have smaller challenges. Many of these data challenges crop up between IT and other departments such as marketing, finance, and business operations, as SMBs uncover their true business objectives and figure out how to make raw data into actionable intelligence. As a result, many of these SMBs will instead invest in training and education for their existing employees rather than hire a formally trained data scientist. Hiring these costly, highly trained, highly educated data scientists just isn't practical for most businesses, so they'll put their money into what resources they already have.
Initially, the demand for data scientists will be higher at larger enterprises as these organizations try and squeeze every last drop of value out of their data and their sophisticated business intelligence solutions. Most large enterprises, looking for a competitive edge, will jump at the chance to hire folks who can use the data they've collected to try predicting the future of the markets, sales cycles and trends, and customer behavior rather than just react to what's happened. Instead of hiring larger groups of data scientists, though, these enterprises will find ways to train business and financial analysts, as well as the 'average business user' to perform data analytics using automated tools.

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The majority of technology professionals have seen their salaries rise in the past 12 months, according to a recent survey of more than 2,600 UK technology professionals. Indeed, 59% of those responding to the survey have received pay rises this year, as companies step up sending on digital technology. This compares with 36% who have seen no increase in salary and 5% who reported a decrease in salary. Despite caution in the wider hiring market, organizations are investing in technology, with technology professionals in greater demand than ever.
The average salary for permanent staff who completed the survey was nearly £52,000, up from £44,000 last year, while contractors earned an average of £380 a day. Nearly 15% of permanent staff reported pay rises of 10% or more, and 10% reported rises of between 5% and 9%. About 35% have seen pay rises of between 1% and 4%. The most generous employers are in broadcast media where 72% of employees have received pay rises, financial services (69%) and manufacturing (65%). Technology professionals working in government reported the fewest pay rises.
The majority of IT professionals, some 75%, said they were happy in their jobs, the research revealed. But despite this, some 80% are actively looking at the jobs market, suggesting that employers will have to work harder to retain staff. Most professionals plan to leave their employer. Some 72% of employees said their next job is likely to be outside their current employer. Last year, over 35% of technology professionals changed companies - a high rate of turnover, which could prove expensive for employers. However, the research showed that employers need to do more than offer a good salary to keep their people. The majority of technology professionals said that working on interesting and challenging projects is the most important factor in keeping them happy and productive at work. Next on the list are being surrounded by good people and open and honest communication. Excellent pay and rewards comes in third place.

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Elite Grads in Business Flock to Tech
Wall Street Journal, November 5
Elite business school graduates are increasingly heading to work in technology over finance as the lingering aftereffects of the financial crisis, along with Wall Street's long hours and scaled-back pay, sends newly minted MBAs elsewhere. At Harvard Business School, for example, 18% of job-seeking students landed tech-sector spots this year, up from 12% in 2012. A similar shift is under way at other business schools. In some cases, the share of graduates going into tech has more than doubled over the past two years. At Stanford Graduate School of Business, historically a haven for technology-minded graduates, tech companies overtook financial services for the first time this year, with 32% of the class accepting tech jobs and just 26% heading into finance.
Seduced by the culture and mission at places such as Google and LinkedIn, business-school graduates are even accepting somewhat lower pay for what they perceive as more meaningful work. Median base salaries for tech jobs among Stanford graduates last year totaled roughly $120,000, with an additional $38,000 in signing bonuses and other guaranteed compensation. Finance jobs, meanwhile, commanded starting salaries of $150,000, with another $135,000 in guaranteed compensation and signing bonuses. Many graduates who take jobs at upstart tech firms also receive compensation in the form of equity stakes or stock options. Students have seen their own lives changed by tech innovations, and are increasingly eager to work in a fast-paced sector.
The most popular consumer-facing Internet companies are among the most attractive to MBA students. Amazon, for example, hired nearly 40% more MBAs from the class of 2013 than it did the prior year. The company started hiring MBAs more than a decade ago and now hires "hundreds" of business school graduates every year as senior financial analysts and product managers. The rise is partly attributable to the company's growth, but also to MBA graduates' hunger for work that gives them both autonomy and impact. Facebook has also increased MBA hiring, though the company still puts more emphasis on candidates' accomplishments than on degrees. MBAs appear willing to make the leap to tech firms of all sizes—at Stanford, 339 different organizations hired students for full-time jobs and summer internships this year; 94% of the firms hired just one or two students. That being said, early-stage startups remain wary of MBAs without deep technical expertise and may require candidates to prove their mettle in a summer internship.

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Developer salaries are on the rise again after a period of nearly two years in which salaries did not change at all. This advance is most likely attributable to an improving economy. In fact, in regions like Silicon Valley, the economy's recovery and the proliferation of mobile start-ups has created an acute shortage of developers, with many companies actively competing for talent already employed at competitors. Experts caution, though, whether this forward momentum can be sustained or whether the Silicon Valley hiring experience is part of a bubble that will pop in 2014.
In 2013, compensation increased faster than inflation for the first time in three years for both testers and developers. Software engineers have enjoyed steady increases during the past four years, which continued but did not accelerate this year as much as the lower-paid positions did. Salaries varied widely by region, as mentioned in the first slide. The numbers for the Pacific region are pushed up by salaries in the Bay Area, which includes Silicon Valley and San Francisco. The figure for the Mountain Region probably does not signal a decline in salaries in the area. Rather, the unusually large leap in last year's salaries, whose exact cause was hard to identify, is likely a misleading number.
Base salaries tend to be higher at larger firms. The compensation disparity between large and small firms is particularly wide in management. Unlike other careers, in which salaries tend to rise with experience, past 35 years of age, salaries flatten in software development. This slide in last year's survey shows a similar pattern, with one noticeable difference — salaries improved this year for developers over 55, while staying static for staff in the tiers between 36 and 55. The salary figures show evidence of a gender-based salary gap. For example, 2013 was the first year that women made more in salary than they did in 2010. Meanwhile, their male counterparts enjoyed salary increases every year during that period. More than half the developers and over three-quarters of managers expect some kind of bonus. As was the case in previous years, personal performance was the principal deciding factor for bonuses.

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Amidst concerns that not enough women are entering the technology field, some of the most powerful women in Silicon Valley are exploring new ways to attract more women to the tech sector. One possible solution, they say, is to encourage girls at a younger age to explore careers in technology. Also, there is a growing consensus that the best way to address the problems women face is for more women to enter the industry. This will show more women that the tech world is creative and team-oriented, as well as full of opportunities for building products which will be used around the world.
There is currently demand for women in the technology world, but only a fifth of computer science graduates in the U.S. are female. For one, we need more diversity in hiring if companies hope to come up with better products. Moreover, computing knowledge is required to help solve many problems, from climate change to online education. However, the issue isn't just that there aren't enough women going into tech. Women in the technology sector also drop out fast. Dr Whitney says women leave the industry twice as much as men. Silicon Valley is incredibly invested in its self-image as a meritocracy, which leads to the belief that anyone can make it with intelligence and hard work. That very belief prevents people from actually critically examining the culture.

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IT Careers: Should You Be an SVP?
Computerworld, November 11
As IT continues to become integrated into every aspect of business, IT professionals are seeing new career paths open up, and that's leading to a rise in new job titles that include vice president, senior vice president and executive vice president. As recruiters point out, IT is so important to the organization now, it's only natural that these multi-faceted titles are taking hold. At most organizations, these dual titles denote extra responsibilities, extra compensation and, most importantly, the ability to weigh in on matters beyond just those related to IT. The extra title helps establish rank inside and outside the organization, making it easier to be viewed as a decision-maker with clients, vendors and partners.
Growing into a SVP-type role happens in a variety of ways. Some work towards a role that has a fixed and long-standing position in a company. For others, shifts in HR or C-suite thinking open up new titles. If you talk to an HR person they'll tell you that there are levels and titles. Levels have to do with determining pay grade. Titles have to do with the business card you hand to customers. The multinational nature of a company can complicate that business-facing relationship, since the role of SVP within the United States is interchangeable with the title of "director" or "managing director" elsewhere.

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Where once the CIO held most of the purchasing power and the decision-making capability to determine which IT investments would drive business forward, the CMO is poised to take on a much more strategic role. According to a frequently cited January 2012 research report by Gartner, by 2017 the CMO will outspend the CIO on technology. The traditional CMO role focused solely on marketing campaigns and branding is becoming obsolete. As a result, the CMO of the 21st century is someone who understands how different digital technologies play together. The CMO will be a tech-savvy, content-optimization focused person with a digital understanding and a branding background.
The CMO of the future will face challenges previously taken on by the CIO, including how to use technology to market and brand products for the most effective reach in a digital era, and how to prove the success of such efforts and increase ROI. The way customers interact and engage with companies has changed dramatically, driven by the rise of things like social media. That means, more than ever, the CMO has to be the customer's mouthpiece and the owner of the customer experience within the company, by seeing that experience from an outside perspective. To do that effectively, CMOs must rely on tools and resources that first track customer behaviors online, and then help mine the extensive stores of customer data to direct business' activity.
Of course, to accomplish all this requires an understanding of the advantages of technology, data gathering and analysis, and data mining, as well as some grasp of how big data can deliver actionable business insights to help companies better service customers, increase revenues, and even develop new products. These skills and knowledge, again, are areas where the CMO and the CIO roles overlap. As CMOs fight for money to be allocated to their IT initiatives, CMOs will emerge triumphant is their ability to prove that their initiatives work, that by applying certain methodologies, gathering and analyzing customer data and then iterating their marketing and business plans to better meet customers' needs, they can deliver the ROI they promised. They will have a proof-of-concept, and that will mean their initiatives will be seen as worthy of further investment.

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While getting an MBA or Masters in Computer Science can help you move forward in your technology career, it also comes with a high opportunity cost. In a best case scenario, the advanced academic coursework can help you learn about business not only from your professors, but also from your classmates, many of whom are not in technical professions. The choice of an MBA or a Masters in Computer Science should be based on how you see your future trajectory within the ranks of a company, and how important technical expertise is to your future career. With that in mind, the article summarizes the key reasons why an advanced Masters degree can be a boost to your career advancement.
Having an advanced degree in itself may not help you, but not having one can hurt you. An advanced degree won't necessarily help you is because, once hired, you still have to perform well on the job. The reason not having an advanced decree can hurt you is because when applying for a new job, you will be competing against people with Masters degrees. On paper, all other things such as experience being equal, other job candidates will appear to have a higher level of professional expertise and commitment to their career than you do. In essence, having a Masters will help you open doors, but it's your ability, professional reputation, interview skills, commitment to professional excellence, and personal connections that allow you to walk through the door and get the job.

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HPC Every Day, Everywhere
Blog @ CACM, November 14
John West, Director of the Department of Defense's High Performance Computing Modernization Program, weighs in on the current state of the high performance computing (HPC) movement. At November's SC13 event in Denver, more than 10,000 HPC practitioners, managers, engineers, academics, companies, and users from around the world will meet to discuss the research, products, and impact of high performance computing on the world around us. As West points out, this means that HPC is not just "an international horse race," with organizations around the world racing to build the most powerful machines. The article looks at the link between HPC potential and national innovation, as well as the impact of HPC on everyday life.
For the countries involved, sustained leadership in HPC over the long term is an indicator of a vigorous innovation infrastructure with implications for geopolitical status, economic vitality, and the health, safety, and well-being of its citizenry. In short, HPC is the universal intellectual amplifier. It not only enables study of phenomena otherwise out of the reach of conventional scientific methods, but also radically reduces the costs of scientific inquiry across the board, admitting larger groups of researchers who are free to study a wider range of phenomena than the scientific enterprise could otherwise support.
There are numerous studies detailing the benefits of robust adoption of supercomputing for industries ranging from medical therapy to consumer goods. There are also emerging initiatives that link advances in HPC to the revitalization of manufacturing. Not only that, but also advanced computing really does make a difference to everyday people as they go about their lives, whether it is using a cell phone, downloading a movie or improving the quality of the water supply. The impact of HPC is felt everywhere throughout our culture, in big ways and small, and impacts you every day.

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While nearly 7 million Americans received instruction through online courses in 2011, there is a growing sense that something is missing from the educational experience for online learners, especially with the sudden appearance of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). For all the convenience and flexibility online instruction offers, too many programs have been designed without an appreciation for the necessity of human connection and collaboration in the learning process. While it may be tempting to embrace the promise of MOOCs, there also needs to be greater appreciation for the type of social interaction and partnership required for an optimal online learning experience.
Too often, the latest online education model will offer reading material, lists of the more salient points, and presentations from a one-dimensional speaker, while the opportunity to engage, ask questions, and participate in small-group discussions is nonexistent. This could result in a backlash since most students are social beings, who require partnership and active participation to be optimal learners. A quality online course provides the scheduling flexibility of distance learning, but does so with a reasonable student-professor ratio that makes interaction and connection possible. Unlike MOOCs, which can have as many as 100,000 enrolled students. Quality online learning builds on an exchange of ideas by providing and encouraging regular, consistent interaction that is so vital to mastering new concepts. Well-structured courses, with high levels of interactivity, enable students to expand their horizons beyond their geographical constraints and the limits of a brick-and-mortar classroom. The tools that unite a virtual classroom are already woven into the fabric of their daily lives: social media networks, group chat and video conferencing sessions, messaging, and online advising with instructors.
The level of engagement found with quality online learning stimulates cross-cultural exchange, exposes the student to new ideas and approaches to learning, and forges relationships that can significantly increase their understanding of the material, and, ultimately, their likelihood of success. When properly engaged in an online course, students experience regular, consistent, and meaningful presence from a faculty member as well as the creation of a learning community that encourages growth. Each student is given the chance to interact with peers and professors, creating an opportunity to be heard and understood in a way that might not be possible or likely in a traditional classroom setting. Professors also benefit from quality online education. No longer bound by stringent office hours, they may now be reached via email, Skype, and through various social media channels.

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