Data Science proficiency will underpin the success of the agile business of tomorrow, regardless of the sector. Companies big and small have finally come to this realisation, which has led to rising demand for talent in the labour market.
However, recognising this need is only part of the problem. Currently, demand for data science expertise far exceeds supply. Put bluntly, finding qualified talent is, according to Shourjya Sanyal, curriculum lead for Data Science at Digital Skills Academy, still an “HR nightmare.”
“This is in part because traditional universities still consider programming skills, statistics and business as separate disciplines,” he says. “The competent data scientist needs all the three skill sets.”
The Digital Skills Academy Data Science stream introduces participants to a wide range of industry-relevant skills including data scraping, data cleaning, exploratory analysis, model generation, machine learning, and data visualization.
But there’s more to data analysis than simply having the technical skills required to prepare and analyze data. In a recent interview, Dell EMC’s CTO Bill Schmarzo – known to his friends as the “Dean of Big Data” - said a good data scientist must have more than above average analytical skills and a head for numbers. “I can send a person to school, teach them statistics, computer programming, math, and a lot of different analytic techniques, but they have to be curious about the world around them in order to be a good data scientist,” he said.
Pay scale is perhaps the most tangible way of illustrating the good from the bad. Starting salaries for data scientists vary significantly, ranging from €30,000 to €100,000, according to Sanyal. “If all you can do is crunch the numbers, you’ll be on €30,000,” he says. “However, if you can provide meaningful insight along with number crunching, the value you create for any company will be reflected in your pay cheque.”
Employers are looking for smart data scientists who can deliver useful analysis which provides immediate added value to the business,” says Sanyal. “So in addition to the technical skills of preparing and analyzing data, an overall understanding of business processes is a big plus.”
While Data Science may still be considered niche right now, many analysts believe it will become central to a variety of positions down the road. “As machine learning starts taking over many of our regular jobs - from driving to retail - future jobs will increasingly involve some data science expertise. Employees will become analysts and will be primarily responsible for processing large chunks of data to predict outcomes. “
The age of machine learning is already upon us. Companies that want to survive the next wave of innovation need to embrace data as a resource. Whatever a business is selling today, be it ice-cream or aeroplanes, it is imperative that management understands how customers are reacting to different products. Data is the greatest resource available for understanding. However, all the data in the world is worthless without the requisite skills to make sense out of it. Data scientists are like the linguistic translators for business in the digital age. Digital Skills Academy is teaching business people the key technical skill sets required to begin learning the new language of the enterprise.
Data science is one of the specialist streams on our BSc Honours Degree in Digital Technology, Design & Innovation programme. Download our prospectus to find out more about our Data Science stream.