Google’s prediction: What will be the “sexy” job in the next ten years?

Here’s a strange prediction from Google’s Chief Economist: “I keep saying that the sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians. And I’m not kidding.”

That quote came from a New York Times article about the rapidly increasing demand for statisticians.

He’s talking about you, conversion fans. You may not think of yourself as being a statistician—you may not have it written on your business card—but if you’re basing your marketing on data, not on whims, you are already one of the new wave.

We may be in the minority now, but someday all marketing will be carried out this way.

Another article, published by Wired magazine earlier this year, describes how Google’s business models have evolved. Here’s a great quote from the Wired article:

“Hal Varian [Google’s Chief Economist] believes that a new era is dawning for what you might call the datarati—and it’s all about harnessing supply and demand. ‘What’s ubiquitous and cheap?’ Varian asks. ‘Data.’ And what is scarce? The analytic ability to utilize that data. As a result, he believes that the kind of technical person who once would have wound up working for a hedge fund on Wall Street will now work at a firm whose business hinges on making smart, daring choices—decisions based on surprising results gleaned from algorithmic spelunking and executed with the confidence that comes from really doing the math.”

Hal is a fantastically insightful guy—and, of course, he has the benefit of sitting at the cutting edge of innovation. So his advice is worth taking.

Here are a few things that any web business can do now to benefit from this approach:

  • Start making decisions based on data, not on opinion.
  • Get analytics set up well, so you really know which pages, products, acquisition sources, and so on your money is coming from. Knowledge really is power (and profit).
  • Start carrying out split tests (A/B tests or multivariate tests) on different aspects of your business.
  • Create a culture in which people are rewarded for carrying out tests, not punished for making mistakes.

This might sound like a lot of work. In fact, it’s really liberating. Imagine being able to end long debates with “let’s test it and see who’s right.” Imagine being able to make business decisions based on insights your competitors don’t have. And imagine never taking a step wrong, because every decision you make is tested, so you almost immediately know whether it was the right thing to do or not.

So, that’s today’s word of the day: “datarati.”

If you missed the Wired magazine article when it came out, it is particularly worth reading: It’s here.

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