The ‘Soft Sciences’ to get their Day?

12 September 2009, 0151 EDT

In a recent report, Garnter proposes that as corporations try to benefit from the growth of social media they will come to rely more and more on employees with formal, advanced training in the social sciences.

Gartner Vice President Kathy Harris discusses in some detail four areas of jobs needed in the near future. Though she never really uses the words “social networks” the implication is that most companies aren’t really geared toward taking advantage of the impact of these online communities, and that the numbers will be too large to ignore, regardless of the business you are in.

“Many of the needed technical capabilities originate in the social sciences and are aimed at usability and adoption of technology-related business services,” Harris said in a release. “These capabilities embody the notion of ‘action at the interface’ between the enterprise and its markets or between business management and technology management. Therefore, organizations are likely to shift the responsibility for leveraging technology outside centralized IT organizations and into the business units responsible for growth and innovation of revenue, products and services.”

To me, if you combine the plethora of data being generated by Web 2.0 technologies with the inherent social and behavioral aspects of these technologies, it screams for individuals that have training in sophisticated research methodologies (both quantitative and qualitative) as well as substantive subject’s that relate to sociology, psychology, and behavioral economics. It may be creating a perfect storm where individuals with this particular skill set finally find themselves in high demand outside of the Ivory Tower. As a trained social scientist myself, I also hope it puts to bed, once and for all, the short-sighted notion that the social sciences don’t really belong in the category of ‘science’ compared to their physical cousins.

(Cross-posted at bill | petti. Via Jason Spector)