As Big Data continues to change the way we live and work, companies are recognizing the importance of analyzing and communicating data findings with business leaders across the company. To compete with such powerhouses as Google and Apple that are successfully utilizing Big Data to develop, grow and innovate, today’s leaders must recruit and retain more analytical talent.

In a recent interview with, Big Data and analytics expert Russell Walker, PhD explains the importance of utilizing analytical talent as a shared resource within an organization: “What’s unique about a data scientist is that they’re very likely part of a centralized, cross-functional team, because it’s about operations and product development, not just marketing.”

As companies start to see data science on an equal playing field with operations or finance functions, they are increasingly bringing in analytical talent that combines computer science with statistics and data management. “Data scientists are expensive and uncommon in the labor marketplace. And you need a chief data scientist to decide what problems the team will work on,” he says.

A Clinical Associate Professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Walker emphasizes the importance of coupling data science with a business mindset. To make an impact, “Data scientists’ task will be to relate what they learn from data to the business. It’s quite uncommon to find someone who can live both in the science and in the business.”

Attracting and retaining data science talent will require special efforts by firms large and small. Walker stresses the need for organizations to recognize the importance of an entrepreneurial environment and says companies should enable innovation through cross-functional teams of analytical talent, built to support the business as a whole.

Read more about how the rise of Big Data and analytics is impacting corporate culture in Walker’s new book, “From Big Data to Big Profits: Success with Data and Analytics” (Oxford University Press, August 2015).