The following is my list of the Top Three hottest academic areas for a future career in tech:
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.