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The Top Three hottest new majors according to Microsoft: data mining, business intelligence, web analytics

Data Mining/Machine Learning/AI/Natural Language Processing

All of these fields help us sift through and organize huge amounts of information or data. When you apply your knowledge in these areas to a challenging problem in the online space, you know that you are working at a scale that is just immense. It’s much easier said than done. If you have a passion for this area and have a technical background there are a multitude of open positions that might hold a long-term career for you. With the move to the cloud and the sheer amount of information on the web, this area of expertise will continue to be in great demand. Microsoft has a great need for both people interested in the research space and the applied space which is very refreshing.

Business Intelligence/Competitive Intelligence
The ability to see trends, make sense of data to a business audience and help to understand your customers requires a special person. Someone with a mix of engineering, BI/CI experience and a business mindset can take this field to the next level. You will help increase any employer’s bottom line and be able to provide organized data that is extremely valuable to any business. You can help drive business decisions and help your internal audience understand what the data is telling or showing you.

Analytics/Statistics – specifically Web Analytics, A/B Testing and statistical analysis

All of these subjects are offshoots of traditional degrees in CS and mathematics. They all apply to the online world we live in and will also be in great demand as we continue to monetize the web. Retailers, web services, and advertisers will need people in these fields as they try to get the most for their advertising money. As we continue to see the dollar amounts spent for online advertising worldwide, these fields will be hot and we will see online advertising change over time as a result of these positions.


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Comment by Vincent Granville on August 28, 2010 at 11:31am
If this article represents Microsoft's viewpoint, it could be biased. Microsoft is very much into A/B testing with, but this all A/B testing stuff is more than 100 years old, and Microsoft came late in the game, well after Google and Yahoo.

If the economy is not improving, one area that could see strong job growth is fraud / crime / terrorism early detection and in real time, which requires automated data mining tools, expert statistical knowledge and ad-hoc analyses to identify constantly evolving fraud patterns and train models. Also, resource optimization (e.g. water management, doing more, feeding more people with less money, fewer resources): here inventory management, forecasting, actuarial science are good analytic skills to have.

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