This editorial was originally published on Oct 24, 2017. It is being re-run as Steve is away at the Data Community Summit.
There are some people that like working for an organization, sacrificing some compensation and flexibility for stability and security. Others enjoy the chance to experience constantly changing environments and a rich variety of projects at the expense of regularly searching for new work. Neither is necessarily better or worse than the other, and these aren't polar opposites. In the real world, each includes some of the advantages and disadvantages of the other.
For many of us that work with data, we realize there are some advantages to understanding the business meanings and implications of the information derived from data. Indeed, those that tend to work with the same types of data become fluent and comfortable manipulating and discussing how analysis, transformation, and more relate to that type of data. This leads me to think that someone that works for a company or stays within a particular industry might be preferred as a data professional for organizations in that space. Maybe this is someone that an organization wants to hire and retain over time.
I ran across a piece that discusses the Gig Economy from the perspective of data professionals. Their view is that many data professionals would rather work on interesting projects, and analyze data that is interesting to them, rather than being stuck with a single organization. Certainly from the organization's view, having very skilled professionals available for project work means less costs in training, benefits, hiring, etc. While the cost per day might be high, there is no need for an ongoing, or at least not a constant, commitment.
I do think that many of the changes in technology have made it possible for talented workers to find plenty to keep them busy and earn a very good living. However, there's a cost in spending time looking for projects on a regular basis. It takes not only time, but mental strength and a desire to be a bit of a salesperson and marketing professional. Some people may find long term clients that call them over and over, which isn't that different from working for an organization unless you can interleave a number of clients together on a regular basis. However, most people that work at "gigs" are regularly spending time looking for work.
I would postulate that most of us prefer some amount of security and stability, preferring to work for an organization for a period of time. While we may change jobs at times, it's often at a lower pace than those that might prefer to work in the Gig Economy