“I keep saying that the sexy job in the next 10 years will be statisticians.” Hal Varian, chief economist at Google.
Check out this piece from the NY Times about the growing importance of data and the tools/systems/people that collect, mine, analyze, and interpret the data. Some highlights:
In field after field, computing and the Web are creating new realms of data to explore — sensor signals, surveillance tapes, social network chatter, public records and more.
“We’re rapidly entering a world where everything can be monitored and measured,” said Erik Brynjolfsson, an economist and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Digital Business. “But the big problem is going to be the ability of humans to use, analyze and make sense of the data.”
I've posted about "data crunchers" before (e.g., Data Mining and the Obama Campaign) but some of my favorite stories involve sports (e.g., The Death of Moneyball) because they challenge several foundational assumptions about sport. Nowadays, baseball teams revere the "stats" person as much as, if not more than, scouts. One of the best stories is about Shane Battier of the Houston Rockets in an article titled, The No-Stats All-Star. Rather than relying on traditional statistics (batting average, total # of errors, total home runs, RBIs, field goal percentage) new measures are being created to try to enhance one's chances for success (e.g., field-goal percentage (FGP) in the last 10 seconds of the shot-clock,FGP from the top of the key, batting average with a full count). ESPN is now even using algorithms to predict the likelihood of victory in a baseball game based on the score and inning in real-time.