I think the folks at Harvard need to go back to school. I understand why they believe that data scientist will be "the sexiest job of the 21st century", but what I don't understand is the lack of applying basic business school fundamentals to the claim and then taking the next step. I realize that I'm a little late to criticize an article that's nearly a year old and I hope that people will cut me a little slack given that it was just brought up again in these pages a few weeks ago (which was the first time I saw it).
Right around the same time, the HBR article was published, I wrote an article that also foretold of the rising power of Big Data professionals, but where HBR saw "ability to code" as the prime differentiator, I saw insight and artistry as the prime radiants.
The 5 Year Century
The HBR article details how "data scientists" are poised to uncover big value for big companies and used Jonathan Goldman of LinkedIn as an example. Goldman, through trial and error combined with the freedom given him by LinkedIn's then CEO, Reid Hoffman, created LinkedIn's highly successful "People You May Know" feature.
The article references how some VC firms are even going so far as to create specialized recruiting teams to channel Big Data talent into enterprises and startups. We all know that "Big Data" skill-sets are a rare commodity and that companies "really need people who can manage it and find insights in it" (where "it" is Big Data). Several times the authors talk about the ability of Data Scientists to write code, which the article calls "Data scientists' most basic, universal skill", and warns hiring managers not to "bother with any candidates who can't code". Strangely enough, however, there is a two sentence call out buried within a 5 page article that, when referring to the coding skill, says "this may be less true in 5 years time". There is no other content within the 5 pages that explains this caution or what to do about it.