The Footnotes

BUSINESS & ECONOMICS

Data Science: What is it?

Is it as ‘sexy’ as the media says it is?

This one well and truly seems to be the flavour of the month/year/decade. 

 

  • Do you love making sense of numbers?
  • Do you want to help a business make decisions based on your findings and presentations of data?
  • Data Science could be the career path for you.

For some people numbers just make sense. Some people can calculate them; some people can understand them and create something of value. Data Science is for the latter type of person.

I’m talking about the storytellers who can read and understand a set of numbers and make sense of them. 

The profession of ‘data scientist’ is generating a lot of heat throughout the media at the moment as the ‘sexiest job’ of the job market. Dr. Tara Sinclair, the chief economist of Indeed.com has said that the number of job postings for data scientist grew 57% for the first quarter this year compared to the year-ago quarter. With people searching the role ‘data scientist’ growing 73.5% for the same period.

But what is it? And is it really that sexy? 

The amount of data that businesses have access to is increasing every day – IBM estimates that 90 per cent of the data in the world today was created in the last two years, and in 2050 the world will generate 50 times the amount of data than in 2011.

As technology users, every day we are giving business and the owners of the apps that we use access to information on our age, location, movements and interests – this is very useful information for businesses as they craft new business strategies on what they know about their customers and their target market.

But whose job is it to organise and analyse this avalanche of data? It’s a data scientist’s. They will identify patterns and regularities in data and make commercial and social value of it. It’s a role that can give a business great insight into people’s social and economic behaviour. It’s a type of business analysis that incorporates computer science, modelling, statistics, analytics and mathematics. It’s your job to understand how a piece of data fits into the larger picture of an organisation.

So what skills do you need and what should you study?

A data scientist should have technical, analytical and presentation skills to communicate findings through visuals and stories– quite a unique bundle.

A degree is not 100 per cent necessary, many individuals can self teach themselves to be software engineers or mathematicians, but we would recommend you have a strong knowledge of computer science, applied mathematics, and statistics. This would put you in good standing for data science roles. There are also many universities offering under grad and postgrad studies in Analytics and Data Science, or the ability to major in data science through a Bachelor of Science.

Data Science: What is it?
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