Data science is a sector in demand. Valued at $19.75 billion in 2016 by the global data science platform MRC, it’s forecast it to hit $128.21 billion by 2022 – this once niche sector is fast earning itself an envied reputation.
This growth is down to the fact that data is starting to play a huge part in our lives both at home and at work, as it embeds itself in many of the day to day technologies we use: voice recognition, image recognition, CV sifting, chatbots, shopping simulations, sentiment analysis and ad engines to name a few. From an organisation's perspective, this means more and more are coming to realise the importance of data science and in turn, AI and machine learning.
Regardless of industry or size, organisations that wish to remain competitive in the age of big data need to efficiently develop and implement data science capabilities or risk being left behind. Without the expertise of professionals who turn data into actionable insights, big data is nothing. Today, more and more organisations are opening up their doors to big data and unlocking its power—increasing the value of a data scientist (unicorn) who knows how to tease actionable insights out of gigabytes of data.
So, what exactly is data science and why is there a sudden need for data scientists in leading organisations?
The official word on data science according to Wikipedia is “…an interdisciplinary field that unifies statistics, data analysis, machine learning and related methods in order to understand and analyse actual phenomena within data." Data science therefore encompasses a variety of the more traditional business roles including data architect, data engineer, modeller and analyst. This means that data scientists crop up in a variety of areas within organisations including IT, digital, central BI, central marketing and analytics and more importantly, strategy.
The skill breadth held by data scientists is becoming increasingly valued as new technologies and languages emerge by the day. Each solve specific problems and, in-turn, provide access to a wealth of data. Whilst this diversity of use is a massive opportunity and a real plus for the sector, the challenge for organisations is adopting these emerging technologies, utilising the capabilities of data scientists and ensuring this information is represented at the top table to ensure it has an impact.
What was once an undervalued and potentially misunderstood discipline, data science now takes on a more significant role within business.