SAS starts search for top data scientist

SAS, a leader in business analytics software and services, has launched its first data scientist competition in the UK & Ireland

Open to the academic and business communities, the contest aims to find the country’s best candidate who can demonstrate a breadth of skills in the use of analytics, innovation and data to deliver better insight and make a valuable contribution to their community. 

The competition is open to undergraduates, postgraduates and business professionals. Entrants will be able to access a defined set of open data sources, available for analysis within the SAS Academic Cloud.

The challenge is to produce an innovative forecast of energy demand, using open data from the UK government to forecast the number of terawatt hours of electricity likely to be consumed in the UK by 2020.  The judges are looking for written submissions and a video presentation; the more interesting and more visual the better. The winner will be announced as the SAS UK & Ireland Data Scientist of the Year. They will receive a unique 3D model of their results, a trip to a SAS Conference in the USA and an opportunity to present at the UK SAS Professionals Conference in 2015

“We are looking for data scientists with great ideas and projections, to show us the impact data can have on infrastructure, power usage and the growing use of devices,” said Laurie Miles, Head of Analytics at SAS UK & Ireland, who will be part of the judging panel.

According to a SAS and e-skills UK report published in November 2013, businesses are waking up to the fact that big data analytics offer organisations the power to know so they can make better decisions based on evidence. It means they uncover insights from data, mitigate risk, better understand customers and ultimately increase revenue. The report estimates that the number of larger organisations that have implemented big data analytics will more than double over the five years to 2017, with a 243 per cent rise in demand for big data specialists over the same period. However, there is an emerging skills gap as around three in five businesses already admit having difficulty finding people with the required skills and experience.

This rise in demand is reflected in graduate starting salaries.Those with analytical skills can command a starting salary of anything up to £32,000pa – a £6,500 head start on the average starting salary of £25,500.

The Rt Hon Liam Fox, former cabinet minister, and a member of the Top Data Scientist judging panel commented: “Understanding data trends will provide the UK with unrivalled opportunities to address some of the most critical issues facing our society, whether that’s the economy, supporting an ageing population or how to tackle the energy crisis.

“The UK is currently faced with a dearth of critical data skills and we need more individuals with the skills to drive this change and create new opportunities. This competition is important not only to identify key talent within data science but also to force the debate around vital areas like the future of energy,” concluded Fox

Miles added: “Our goal for the SAS UK & Ireland Top Data Scientist competition is to kick start awareness of the importance of these skills and get people excited about the role data science can play in modern society. We want to encourage more people to get involved in using data analytics to discover new ideas and opportunities, for them and for their communities.’

The judging panel for the competition will consist of: 

·       Rt Hon Liam Fox MP, former cabinet minister and member of parliament for North Somerset

·       Dr Carsten Sørensen, Associate Professor of Information Systems and Innovation, The London School of Economics

·       Kenneth Cukier, Data Editor, The Economist

·       Stanza, an internationally recognised artist specialising in technology and data visualisation

·       Hannah Redler, Head of Media Space and Arts Programme at the Science Museum, London.

·       Laurie Miles, Head of Analytics, SAS UK & Ireland

The competition is open to entries from 31March until 7 October, 2014. 

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