Two groups with a keen interest in data science –the North Carolina Board of Science, Technology & Innovation and the National Consortium for Data Science—have teamed up to produce a report that examines what the Tar Heel state needs to do to be a leader in the emerging data economy.
The report, NC in the Next Tech Tsumani: Navigating the Data Economy, says North Carolina has the raw assets to build a world-class data economy, including top-tier universities and thriving business sectors in technology, life sciences and finance. However, those assets must be nurtured through a focus on data science education, data literacy, support for data-focused startups, and a coordinated effort to present the state as a data leader.
It’s a message that is relevant to many states in the South Big Data Hub region and across the U.S. And, like North Carolina, those states are looking for strategies that will focus talented people and the business and educational sectors on building a data economy that can generate new high-paying jobs across diverse industries and business sectors.
How big of a deal is the data economy? The World Economic Forum declared it the “fourth industrial revolution” and the recruiting website Glassdoor ranked “data scientist” at number one among the top 25 jobs in the U.S. in 2016. Data science is not just for technology companies either, according to the report. In North Carolina companies as varied as R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, Norfolk Southern Railroad, and General Electric use data for insights into customers, products, and operations.
Among the steps the report recommends for building a data economy are:
- Elevate the data economy to the top tier of economic development priorities.
- Grow and support the data science startup ecosystem across the state, and promote it nationally.
- Create a pipeline of data science education and data literacy, K-20+.
- Position the state as the “Open Data” state.
- Support world-class data science research.