Data science as an emerging career

Last Updated 18 June 2014, 18:24 IST

The winners and losers in the emerging data economy will be determined by their data science teams, writes Loveleen BhatiaData Science is the art of spinning data into actions.

Just a few years ago, there was no portfolio in technology by the name of Data Scientist, whereas in the next decade, this may become the hottest job in IT! Such is the dynamics of this field.

After all, someone is needed to make sense out of the massive amount of data being created.

The Data Scientist could become the most sought after and highly compensated position in newer era of analytical tech and Big Data.

They crunch the data, use mathematical models to analyze it and create narratives or visualizations to explain it, and then suggest how to use the information to make decisions.

The data scientist analyzes the massive amount of data available to companies today and uncovers key insights that result in new actions leading to better business results.

Data scientists frequently work with executives and provide critical counsel on how to maximize value.

Data scientists often work across organizations with both business and IT departments. Individuals successful in the role should be able to get IT to deliver a data platform that allows business users to ask the questions needed to make the right business decisions.

It is this ability to collaborate and influence that distinguishes great data scientists from good data scientists.

Emerging area

The data scientist, as an emerging career path, is at the core of organizational success with Big Data and for improving the data to help businesses better understand their consumer.

Given the nature of flux of technology and the growing demand from employers for Data Scientist, even if universities across the globe try to fill the gap, there would still be an evident gap in demand and supply chain.

It becomes extremely important for a professional to upgrade their skills to remain in the industry and online education players are doing their bit by nurturing workforce in Data Science and other newer technologies.

To meet demand from employers, the United States alone will need to increase the number of graduates with skills handling large amounts of data by as much as 60 percent.

Skills required

What makes a Data Scientist valuable is the combination of skills required to do the job. Each of the skills mentioned here can be a career all by themselves.

With all these skills, one will be in high demand and working on the cutting edge of new technology.

Computer Science: A solid background in programming and computer science is required to be a Data Scientist.

One of the principles of data science is that data is in many different sources.

A Data Scientist needs to be able to extract data from databases, such as SQL Server, Oracle, and NoSQL platforms.

In addition, they must be able to programmatically consume web services and parse data from XML or text files. Without this skill, accumulating data would be virtually impossible.

Mathematics, Statistics & Data Mining: This is pretty obvious but a Data Scientist must have a background in statistics and mathematics.

In addition, you need to be able to work with popular statistical software such as SPSS and SAS.

Graphic Design and Visualization: The ability to create visualizations that tell the story you are trying to convey is critical to the Data Scientist.

The importance of graphics, maps, dashboards and other visualizations is evident in the road maps of all the major database providers.

There are also a number of companies whose entire portfolio of products is based on solely on data visualizations.

Hacking: The ability to snoop in to a network to access data in incognito mode is essential and key skill common in hackers.

Career prospect

Data Scientists can easily find opportunities with some big companies such as IBM, Hewlett Packard, Yahoo, Google to name a few.

As a Data Scientist, there are ample opportunities in the business, financial and health care sectors.

Organizations have a strong need to manage their data, and develop logical solutions for data management.

The salary depends on the type of business and the location of the business. There are numerous data scientist jobs available today – one just needs to have the right combination of skills.

This career is similar to a Data Analyst, however, the clear difference is a Data Scientist develops a logical strategy to add value to the data. For example, a Data Analyst will examine the data for its usefulness.

A Data Scientist will evaluate the data for its usefulness, value and develop a method to deliver this data within an organization.

In addition, a Data Scientist will develop a path to stream this data to the individuals that may need it in an efficient and to grow and develop the business entity.


With so many firms becoming data-centric these days, these individuals are tasked with forming logic out of that data that leads to valuable business decisions.

The winners and the losers in the emerging data economy will be determined by their Data Science teams.

(Published 18 June 2014, 14:15 IST)

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