Sunday, 8 May 2016

Why study economics? More on jobs in the tech sector edition...

Earlier in the year I wrote a post about the increasing number of jobs for economists in the tech sector. Julia Chen Investor's Business Daily had an interesting article last month on the same topic. Chen writes:
Established giants and newer tech firms alike are enlisting economists to help with many crucial tasks. Companies that employ economists include Amazon.com (AMZN), Airbnb, IBM (IBM), Facebook (FB), Microsoft (MSFT), eBay (EBAY), Yahoo (YHOO) and Uber...
Tech company economists must combine theory with practical application.
“We use economic principles and economic theory, but we also use experiments, statistical data and other aspects of the real world to build systems that work and will stand the test of time,” said Preston McAfee, chief economist at Microsoft.
These systems can address fundamental business questions, such as setting prices, as well as challenges brought about or exacerbated by the rapid rate of innovation in the tech industry. As firms expand, economists are increasingly working on public policy issues, including privacy issues and intellectual property topics...
Economists have to analyze large amounts of data. Much of their value to tech firms is in helping to connect the engineering side with the business side.
As I've noted before, the availability of jobs in the tech sector is just one more reason why studying economics is a good idea. Not only are the big tech firms hiring economists (and not just the PhD-qualified economists that the IBD article talks about), there are opportunities for economics graduates at small start-ups. Steven Lim even teaches a paper at Waikato on the New Economics of Business, substantially related to how economics is useful for new, tech-oriented firms. The skills that economics graduates learns have wide applicability to business decision-making.

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