Ever wondered how Amazon’s recommendation system uncannily understands your requirement and shows you the relevant products you would like to buy? Or how Shaadi.com shows you matches as per your specific needs? Or how banks detect fraudulent credit card transactions? Or how Swiggy or Ola or Uber function? Or how Facebook, Google serve you appropriate advertisements? Well, all of this is done by a breed of savvy professionals called Data Scientists.
The term ‘Data Scientist’ was actually coined in 2008 by D.J Patil and Jeff Hammerbacher, who back then were leaders of data and analytics efforts at LinkedIn and Facebook, respectively. As they were doing a lot of large-scale data analysis and data product development work that went beyond the traditional role of data analysts or business analysts, they coined the term ‘Data Scientist’ and crowned themselves with this new designation.
In 2012 the Harvard Business Review published an article by Dr Patil and Thomas H. Davenport titled “Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century” which actually made this designation a mass cult and placed data science amongst the most popular fields to study across the world.
A growing field
Over the past few years, there’s been a great deal of buzz in the media about Data Science, Big Data, Machine Learning, Deep Learning etc. Taking decisions based on large masses of Data not only makes inherent sense, but a strong commercial sense as well. While every organisation is trying to transform itself into a data-driven organisation, many are still struggling to implement it due to lack of understanding and skilled professionals.
Be that as it may, the science of analysing data has been around for a long time. Companies have been making sense of data from business analysts, data analysts, statisticians, business consultants, technologists and subject matter experts in business, to collectively solve problems and provide solutions.
Traditional business analysts were trained to draw inference based on structured small data.
However, today large volumes of data, streaming data and unstructured data need analysing and the new breed of data analysts and data scientists are better equipped to do so. It’s safer to say that data scientists are a much more evolved form of data analysts and business analysts; and for good reason. They’re professionally trained to analyse Big Data and create data products, automated data analytics tools, dynamic visualisation etc.
Demand and prospects
Not surprisingly, data scientists who have domain knowledge and applied skills in various areas like maths, stats, machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing (NLP), R, Python, SQL, SAS, Big Data tools like Hadoop and Spark, visualisation tools like Cogonos, Tableau, click view etc are in demand globally.
The application of AI, ML, Deep learning, Data Science is growing in India and around the world in almost every industry like telecom, IT, insurance, manufacturing, healthcare, banking, retail, media, consulting, ecommerce, oil, gas, automobile, airline, government, NGOs and start-ups and every functional areas like marketing , finance, operation, HR etc. But while the demand continues to escalate at a rapid pace, Indian academia and industry is not yet equipped to fulfill the need.
There’s also a growing demand for solutions based on data science, machine learning and AI but sadly there aren’t enough skilled people available to execute these projects skillfully and successfully. The fastest-growing roles globally are those of Data Scientists and Advanced Analysts and their demand is expected to spike by 28 per cent by 2020. As a result, compared to the market average, it takes five days more for companies to find data scientists and analysts. As a result, employers are even willing to pay premium salaries for professionals with expertise in these areas.
- A Nasscom report states that India needs over 2 lakh Data Scientists.
- Annual demand for Data Scientists will reach nearly 700,000 by 2020.
- McKinsey predicts a shortage of 1.5 million data managers by 2018.
Salaries of Chief Data Scientists with 10+ years of experience in mathematics and statistics are at a minimum of Rs 1 crore annually. Unicorn Data Scientists — the upgraded version of our racy Data Scientists, are still harder to find, and hence enjoy a compensation of more than $200,000 per year. With updated curriculum and skilled faculty who have real time industry experience, Indian students can equip themselves to become leaders in this exciting field of data science.
— The writer is CEO, Aegis School of Data Science
Educational qualifications required to be a Data Scientist
Graduates from any stream are qualified to become data scientists as long as they have knowledge and applied skills in all or some fields like maths, stats, machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, R, Python, SQL, SAS; visualisation tools like Cognos, ClickView, Tableau and Big Data tools like Hadoop, Spark etc. Domain knowledge is a plus. A lot of companies are hiring candidates who possess a master’s degree in statistics, data science, and machine learning etc.
White Paper on Data Science:
- Data Science transforming ICT domain: https://goo.gl/Y55p91
- Opportunities in Telecom arising due to Big Data: https://bit.ly/3vU7kBE
Published with permission from our partner Aegis School of Business