The role of data scientist has been called the “sexiest job of the 21st century” by the Harvard Business Review. While it might not match the glamour of being a supermodel or secret agent, there’s a logic to the claim and it’s all about the human element.
While there’s certainly plenty of science in data science, what makes the job stand out so much is that, done right, it can come across as a form of sorcery. In a world that’s increasingly about automation and big data, a data scientist is the person who can find the meaning and the lessons among all the numbers.
What really makes data science such a standout role, and one not everyone can do well, is that it combines skills which aren’t often found together. As you’d imagine, it requires rigorous accuracy and detail in crunching the numbers among data. At the same time, it requires creativity to spot patterns and trends. In effect, a data scientist has to be able to see the fine detail and the big picture at the same time.
Indeed, one blog listed no fewer than eight core skills that a data scientist needs to handle, ranging from understanding programming languages to statistics, to data visualisation and communication.
We’ve established that the best data scientists will be rare beasts, but do businesses really need them? Well, they could just make the difference between muddling through and making the most of your business’s potential. A good data scientist can give you the answers to any question you pose. A great data scientist can figure out which questions you should be asking.
In an ever-changing business world, the most useful asset for most companies would be a genuine psychic forecaster. But in their absence, a data scientist may be the best way to get a head-start on the competition. Without somebody making the most of your data, you’re left hoping the lessons of the past are still valid today. With a skilled data scientist you can truly understand what’s really happening today and get a better insight into what may happen tomorrow.