What is Data Science?
Data Science is a blend of various tools, algorithms, and machine learning principles with an aim to discover hidden patterns from raw data. According to Hugo Bowne Andersen in Harvard Business Review, “Data scientists clean, prepare and validate structured and unstructured data to build machine learning pipelines and personalized data products to better understand their business and customers and to make better decisions.”
Role of Data Scientists
In many ways, the Data Scientist’s role has evolved from that of the statistician. Combining knowledge of computing and coding with that of statistics, the Data Scientist uses advanced analytics technologies, including machine learning and predictive modeling, to mine large and complex datasets through statistical techniques.
A data scientist may be mining data to understand customer behaviour, identify business risks and opportunities, or deep dive into data related to a particular department of the business to solve a problem. The decisions born out of such analysis could help organisations change course, improve processes, products or services, or develop and create new services or products.
Preparing for a career in Data Science
It seems beyond debate that Data Science will present “a sexy” job opportunity for graduates of the future. To prepare for a career in this field, students can start early by exposing themselves to quantitative or analytical subjects in school, including mathematics, statistics and coding or computer science. Adding on some data visualization experience would be invaluable.
After school, one could look to pursue an undergraduate programme in any quantitative discipline – such as economics, statistics, mathematics, physics, engineering or computer science, even if not in data science itself. And then this could be topped up with a postgraduate qualification in data science.
An underrated skill for a Data Scientist is clear communication, since this is crucial for ensuring that she understands correctly the business question that requires analysing and is also then able to use the results from the analysis to drive better business decisions. Intellectual curiosity and creativity also go a long way in helping one become a successful Data Scientist.
A word of more general advice – increased job market uncertainty also means we’re entering the era of lifelong learning, which means that job seekers must be being conscious of future trends in the job market to ensure that their skills are adequately and regularly upgraded to reflect employer demand.
Read more about how to Build Careers in Data Science
Demand for Data Scientists
Rapid digitisation has led to enormous amounts of data being collected every minute. Companies and organisations can make better decisions by drawing insights from this structured, semi-structured and unstructured data pertaining to nearly every aspect of the organisation’s functioning. And add to this the fact that the Data Scientist can apply her expertise in equal measure to fields as varied as healthcare, public policy, finance and marketing. It is no surprise then, that demand for highly-skilled labour in the analytics, data science and big data industry is booming rapidly, and is consistently outstripping supply.
Check out The Advent of Data Science
Premonitions of it being “the sexiest job of the 21st century” seem to ring truer with every passing day. Hear about Data Science course from one of the pioneers of Data Science programmes at The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).