The citizen data scientist concept is relatively new in the analytics space, but I get the sense that it's one of those "love it or hate it" ideas that will bring the discussion to a boiling point. It's not there yet, but it's at least simmering.
As we have seen over the past few years, there's still no solid agreement on the role of the data scientist in an organization, and which skills are most critical. The result is that the job descriptions for a data scientists require some serious online scrolling through requirements for advanced technical degrees, certifications, industry knowledge, creativity, communication skills, and management experience.
It sometimes seems that those job descriptions were assembled by a committee representing a half dozen departments, from HR to marketing and the C-suite. I'm sure you have heard that the camel is a horse designed by a committee. No wonder it's so hard to find candidates who hit all the criteria.
I've talked to probably a dozen analytics professionals about the citizen data scientist concept in recent months. Some embrace it. Others want to squash it like a bug. That type of dichotomy begs for some additional research. So, I encourage you to have your say in our new Quick Poll, Those Citizen Data Scientists.
Like so many other new tech-related concepts, one challenge regarding "citizen data scientist" is in defining the term itself.
I've heard executives talk about recruiting experienced business managers for mid-career shifts into data science roles, and sending those candidates off for a year or more of intensive data management/math/statistics education. Others give business unit leaders a crash course in the basics of analytics and pair them with experienced technical pros, so that together they meet the job criteria as some two-headed data scientist.
Then there is the idea that a citizen data scientist merely is a business pro who is given more advanced query tools built out by an experienced data scientist, but the business pro is isolated from the actual database.
Those speaking in opposition to citizen data science argue that you have to possess core data management, SQL, and data modeling talents if you are going to touch live data.
While I find the citizen data scientist role intriguing and I understand the need to fill data science roles rather than let them sit idle, there are legitimate concerns about how someone with only a few months of technical training could mess up corporate data or misinterpret statistics.
So, this is an issue where I will play the role of the smart politician and abstain, at least until the votes are in and I can see which way the wind is blowing. However, I encourage you to have your say with your votes and with your comments.