A data modeler joined a panel…sounds like the beginning of a good joke. However, a couple of weeks ago I participated in a data management panel at Columbia University.
I arrived early and therefore sat in on the Artificial Intelligence (AI) panel that was scheduled right before mine. Many of the conversations hovered around topics such as deep learning, data mining, and machine learning. Topics such as robotics and predictive analytics were also discussed. Many of those in attendance were in the Advanced Analytics program at Columbia and currently (or will be soon) in the job search process.
Towards the end of the AI panel, the moderator asked for questions from the audience, and as can be expected, most of these questions focused on skills needed to be hired in the field of AI. There was a lot of talk in this area, but the theme kept coming back to one main skill: Communication. Experts on the panel emphasized that the easy part is learning tools such as TensorFlow. The hard part is knowing how to communicate with users, executives, and coworkers to get requirements and design a solution.
(As an aside, it’s interesting that “communication” was also the most important skill that came out of this past year’s Data Modeling Hackathon at DMZ.)
After the AI panel, I walked upstairs for my panel. I was the only data modeler on the panel :L). Most of the topics focused on data quality or data governance. It was amazing though that I was able to address questions on data quality and governance purely using examples from my last few modeling assignments. For example, the moderator asked the panelists what factors lead to data disparity, and I was able to talk about the four factors I believe lead to multiple definitions for the same term: Scope, Time, Motive, and State.
I volunteered to participate in this panel because another theme from this past year’s Data Modeling Hackathon was educating university students on data modeling. .I wasn’t sure how many students knew data modeling in this audience. However, I was shocked when the first question posed to the panelists was directed at me! A student asked, “How relevant is data modeling in the world of NoSQL?” I smiled and gave my answer.
How would you answer this question? (Remember a majority of the audience are students that will be entering the workforce shortly.)