Data Science – What is it?
Data Science is essentially the extraction of knowledge from large amounts of various forms of data. It is an interdisciplinary field, meaning it engages with more than one branch of knowledge, that involves scientific processes and methods that, ultimately, helps businesses make more efficient and strategic decisions. It can involve computer science, statistics, analytics and mathematics alongside contextual understanding of existing assumptions in a business. Data Science is even influencing areas of social sciences and humanities, showing that it covers a wide spectrum of industries. But why choose data science as a career path? The next few years have been proven to be prosperous for data scientists, as Britain is expected to create an average of 56,000 ‘big data jobs’ until 2020. Therefore, businesses are crying out for data scientists and it is said that by 2018 there will be 1.5 million managers needed to optimize available data (Mckinsey and Company).
Job Role and the Essential Skills?
Data Scientists have various job responsibilities and may be required to:
Extract large volumes of data from internal/external sources
To be proactive about their research and frame their own industry questions
Determine hidden weaknesses, trends and opportunities from data
Recommend cost efficient alterations to existing business strategies
The essential skill set required for this type of job role are technical, analytical and communication skills. Technical skills will include a wide knowledge of mathematics, statistics and software engineering, as well as a good understanding of programming languages, e.g. Java and Python. Analytical and problem solving skills are equally as vital, as you will have to put raw data in context and employ the correct approach to make maximum use of time and resources. Finally, communication skills are also essential! A data scientist may have to present their findings to a diverse audience of the company but also should listen and understand what problems there are to solve them.
What Industries are Involved?
As said before, data scientist roles are available in a variety of industries, including retail, government, health care, finance and technology. Each role may be slightly different, as they have to adapt to the industry.
For the Marketing/ Retail Industry, data scientists are quite rare; finding someone with the mix of business intuition, technology and math’s skills are hard to find. The main aim of a data scientist in this industry is to collect, manage and analyze data with the aim of ‘increased customer relevance, reducing customer churn and higher basket sizes’ (Steven Skinner, Cognizant Business Consulting). They also need to help executives make more accurate and reliable decisions in order to set themselves apart from their competitors.
Data scientists are also flourishing in the Tech Industry, due to advancing technology. Using machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence, statistical learning algorithms are used to extract from data sets. Although it is a different method of analyzing data, the aim is the same as other industries: it benefits companies as they can make intelligent predictions or perform actions that enhances the company’s performance.
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Written by Cassie Walker
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