Analytics & Reporting

Do CMOs Need to Hire Data Scientists or Become One?

7 minute read

For the past three years, Glassdoor has named Data Scientist the best job in America based on user ratings, median income, and job openings. In fact, for the about past decade data scientists have been the rising stars of the marketing world. In 2012, Harvard Business Review announced that Data Scientist was the “Sexiest Job of the 21st Century.”  

Gone are the days of traditional advertising, and we are now seeing the rise of account-based marketing and data science as consumers desire a more focused, personalized ad experience.  But what exactly does a data scientist do, and how do they help your company engage with customers?

data scientist career path

The Growth of Data Science:

I spoke with Sarabjot Kaur, co-founder of Experfy, about the current relationship between data scientists and marketers.  Incubated in the Harvard Innovation Launch Lab, Experfy is a talent platform  with 30,000 experts providing consulting and training for technologies in demand, such as AI, Big Data, IoT, Blockchain, Cloud, Security and Digital Marketing. Combining self-paced courses with live instruction, Experfy helps companies and working professionals up-skill and re-skill to stay relevant in today’s digital economy. Kaur has worked with data scientists and Fortune 500 companies to help companies take advantage of these emerging strategies and technologies.

Kaur explained that Data Scientists are so valuable because of how customer-centric the market is today.  The personalization that consumers require all stems from understanding their emotions and decisions. And while marketers are moving towards a consumer-centric approach to marketing, they tend to not do research beyond their ideal target market, or even break down that ideal target into individuals.  That is where data scientists come in. Understanding data science projects can help marketers to understand consumers’ emotions, and perhaps even help them define other target markets besides the “ideal persona.”

Many companies have already caught on to this trend which is evident by the thousands of data scientist job openings in 2018.  However, many of these companies still struggle to effectively implement data science into their marketing plans. So, what’s the issue?

The Gap Between Marketers and Data Scientists


In her time at Experfy, Kaur has noticed a significant disconnect between marketers and data scientists that can be costly to companies. “[Marketers] are currently not able to sync business objectives to in-depth data.  In most scenarios, there is a clear lack of realistic measures and outcomes for the data science projects.” She suggests that this stems from a lack of technical understanding about data science and its applications.

While this is a problem that plagues even successful Fortune 500 companies, she believes there is a solution. “In the future, marketers will need to act as data scientists or at least start thinking like them. But of course, to get started on the path to leveraging data science for business marketing optimization, there is an investment that you need to make – upskilling.”

Benefits of Upskilling:

Can Skills Start Up Business Foundation Startup

According to Kaur their are four main benefits of marketers upskilling in data science:

  1. Marketers will be able to create campaigns that are:
  • Customer and market focused
  • Agile and adaptive to change
  • Efficiently and effectively optimized
  1. Marketers will be able to conduct rigorous market testing, backed by data science to arrive at actionable insights.
  2. Being able to leverage data science and emerging technologies, marketers will be able to increase their productivity and quality of work drastically.
  3. Marketers will be able to arrive at better decisions that are targeted at business growth.

And so the answer that you’ve been searching for is… it’s both.  Data Scientists provide unique value in this new marketing landscape, but in order to get the most out of their talents, CMOs and marketers have to be willing to put time into understanding the principles and applications behind data science.  The fields of advertising and digital marketing are complicated and ever-changing, and only the companies that are willing to adopt the new technology and strategies are going to survive.