Shiny technology objects make us happy. Admit it – you want to believe the buzzword du jour will make things better. Or less crappy. But if the capabilities and value of new technology are contingent on humans, eventually you run into the most debilitating of constraints: expertise limitations. It seems like everyone wants to talk about Big Data Analytics, but the inconvenient truth is that without the math folks Big Data doesn’t do much.

As the WSJ writes, Data Crunchers Now the Cool Kids on Campus:

The explosive growth in data available to businesses and researchers has brought a surge in demand for people able to interpret and apply the vast new swaths of information, from the analysis of high-resolution medical images to improving the results of Internet search engines.

Schools have rushed to keep pace, offering college-level courses to high-school students, while colleges are teaching intro stats in packed lecture halls and expanding statistics departments when the budget allows.

So we see the problem, and now the education/industry complex is moving to address the skills gap. Good luck with that. Math is hard. Sure, it may provide a wonderful career path, but it’s not like all those liberal artsy types who don’t see much of a future as lawyers will all suddenly decide statistics is their calling.

I do believe in the eventual impact of Big Data Analytics on all sorts of things including security. But we need to be realistic as an industry about when that impact will actually materialize. The rich can (and will) get richer by throwing money at math PhD’s, but the rest of the world will lag significantly. But we will be hear a lot of the term Data Scientist over the next few years.

I’m lucky that my kids seem to be pretty mathematically inclined, so over time I will push and prod them toward statistics. Though by then there will be another shiny object to chase. There always is.