Israel has an enormous potential to play a major role in the new “Big Data” and Data Science ecosystem. Data Scientist is becoming a very “sexy” profession and since “Big Data” is expected to create a huge market, the opportunity should not be missed.
Israel’s has the following advantages:
- A World class academic activity in machine learning , pattern recognition & text analytics. Some example are: Prof. Yishay Mansour , Prof. Naftali Tishby ,Prof. Yair Weiss and Prof. Amnon Shashua.
- Large supply of candidates – there are quite a lot of great PhD or MSC graduates in Applied math, Statistics Physics , Biology, Bioinformatics and Chemistry . Since the universities have a very limited supply for tenures, the pool is quite deep. In Europe and US there is shortage of these skills.
- These are not new topics For the Israeli Intelligence community and broader Israeli security sector. There are experienced experts who built proven,production systems. The experts are not only on the math side, but also on the business analysis side.
- Typical Israeli data scientist has more IT\programming skills. While these are not mandatory features for success,they tend to accelerate the discovery process and add a lot value.
- There are quite a few business applied Data Mining companies in the commercial sector and in start-ups arena (e.g. Pursway).
- The excellent communication skills, domain understanding and language diversity , especially compared to classical never-worked-outside-of-university PhD. Many Israeli PhD are “forced” to work in teams and in the industry to make a living, or during their army service, so even the more introvert types make a solid team player 🙂
- 50% reduced cost compared to US – for various historical reasons the PHD\Masters title is not as economical as in the states. An amazing Java developer with no degree at all would probably earn twice as much as an amazing chemistry POST-Doc from Harvard. While this is a shame, it presents an opportunity for Data Science service out of Israel. Moreover, there are less hedge-funds to waste people talent 🙂
There are various directions to capitalize the potential:
- Providing Data Scientists as a service, out of Israel. While remoteness presents some challenges, we have seen early success. It seems that the pros outweigh the cons.
- Build infrastructure products for Big data – around Hadoop, Hive, Mahoot etc. Adding the enterprise features and improving performance These are similar in nature to traditional Israeli expertise in networking, storage and security. In my opinion, there is higher chance for na Israeli start-up to succeed here, bigger than in a new social application.
- Develop innovative services that use Machine Learning internally to gain a competitive edge (In advertisement, Retail or Medicine)
In a world where “old-fashioned” software engineers are more and more common, each one of these direction can help maintain Israel’s Hi-Tech uniqueness.
I just saw that other people also think Israel has the chance to be a world leader in big data . Although the quote is from EMC, I knew nothing about it 🙂