Every single business churns out data in one form or another, structured or unstructured and in this age of low barriers to entry for different market segments, any competitive advantage that one can legally plug into must be sought. The term data science defined by Wikipedia at a high level as “an interdisciplinary field about processes and systems to extract knowledge or insights from data in various forms” and its career title of data scientist have been getting more airtime in both boardrooms and startup circles.
A blend of applied mathematics, computer science, design and communication it is both a science and an art requiring a hybrid executive of sorts who can weave comfortably across all disciplines. Beyond the math and logic that underpin the mining, manipulation and analysis, the true value for me lies in the ability of the scientist, engineer, or analyst to then tell the story behind the data in a way that goes beyond popular info-graphics or the well-loved corporate dashboards that often times are a convoluted mix of charts and graphs. The communication aspect is critical as it heavily informs business strategy by giving clarity to three key decision pillars.
What do we know now?
To avoid, analysis paralysis this goes straight to the insights that matter informed by in-house key performance indicators or exceptions detected.
What do we do next?
Knowing the current situation gives a business its pulse and it reflects either of these states; on track, better than expected or remedial action necessary. Off these three, there must be easy to understand models on the ready to simulate different scenarios.
How to do it
Agile organizations adapt faster and have higher chances of survival long term especially when competitive advantage is short lived in commoditized environments. Call it a cheat sheet but the outcome of every analysis must be a list of actionable items.
The demand for this key skillset continues to grow, evidenced by the placement of ads globally on many technology focused sites and locally by the number of head hunter calls a few of my highly competent friends have received this year alone.
Social science, engineering, law, business, medicine, retail and agriculture stand to see business unusual as this role is brought in-house similar to what players in the finance sector have done for years under the business intelligence docket, as opposed to having it intermittently outsourced.