We talk a lot about big data, analytics and software development (and much more!) in our blog posts here at GAP. In recent years we’ve seen the popularity of the Data Scientist increasing. In what is possibly one of the hottest jobs in the tech world, the Data Scientist can be hard to define, let alone trying to establish if you need one or not!
In this blog, we explore the data scientist role and give you some tips and advice that will help you decide as to whether you need a dedicated data scientist in your team. We also look at the skills and traits that should be on your radar during your searches for this elusive professional, so let’s get started!
Definition of a data scientist
The discipline is so new, and sometimes it can be hard to define what a data scientist is. Not to mention, colleges aren’t exactly churning our data scientists in their masses. That said, it helps to get a definition of what the data scientist is before we move onto the remainder of this article.
In a nutshell, a data scientist is a professional that can help you derive actionable insights from data using various technologies such as machine learning, and apply statistical analysis to help you surface patterns or signals in your data. Quite often, they will use several software tools to help then ingest, pre-process, crunch and visualize data.
The term “data scientist” has been used liberally and it can hard to understand fully what they do Click To Tweet
Do you really need to hire one?
Now that we’ve covered a definition, one of the next things to consider is if, in fact, you really do need a data scientist on your team. The role of the data scientist is relatively niche and as such, data scientists can command handsome salaries.
If you’re a software house or business that has access to technical resources, one option to consider is cross training an existing member of staff into the role. Another option is to augment your existing team with a continuous software delivery partner that have data scientists, data engineers and data consultants for hire. It pays to take stock of the size of the project you need done, how many people-hours you believe it will take and if your existing team could plug the gap.
Software developers and data scientists can work together effectively, for example, to build stored procedures or even full-blown web applications that help your business extract datasets from your existing systems. This information can be presented in the form of reports that can also be imported into Excel to create further rich visualizations.
If you can get by with your existing team, maybe you don’t need to consider deploying a data scientist in your business. On the other hand, if you believe you still do, then it’s time to consider the types of work you can give your data scientist and explore how a data scientist can help you.
What types of work should I give my data scientist? What can they help with?
The term “data scientist” has been used liberally and it can hard to understand fully as to which types of work you can give the data scientist and how they can help you and your business. It’s all about expectations. Here are some example tasks or projects that you can assign your data scientist and how they can help you.
Maybe you harvest and analyze thousands of customer reviews or consumer feedback. A data scientist can help you surface consumer insights, popular topics, and keywords that are recurring in your datasets thereby allowing you to make more informed decisions as a business.
If you need to identify if consumers should be granted loans or other forms of credit, for example, your data scientist can help you build models that can advise as to which category prospective customers belong to. Furthermore, a data scientist can help determine which rate each customer should be given considering existing and potential future data, which brings us to…
If you have access to historical datasets and are looking to build a solution that makes predictions on new, incoming data, your data scientist can help your business build models that provide insights and forecasts!
These are just some sample scenarios where a data scientist could be a real asset to your team or business!
What should you actually expect from a data scientist? Click To Tweet
What skills and traits should you look for?
Now that we’ve looked at some examples of the types of data-related work you can expect to assign your data scientist, let’s look at the skills or traits you should expect your data scientist to have.
Information systems generally store data in relational or NoSQL databases, and in addition to programming languages, your data scientist should be comfortable writing queries in languages such as SQL to read and manipulate database records.
Comfortable with Big Data Machine Learning
If your business processes torrents of big data, you’ll need your data scientist to be comfortable working with complex machine learning algorithms as there will simply be too much information to process manually. Look for someone that has a formal maths or statistics background and can blend this knowledge with computer programming to help you build automated solutions that can help you build solutions that self-learn, thereby making it easier to understand your data.
Coding, engineering and data cleansing and processing are only one side of the coin, no doubt, the numbers are important and useful insights can be presented in regular Excel charts and so on. Sometimes, this doesn’t cut it though and your data scientist should be able to present insights in a digestible manner that doesn’t mean getting too far “into the weeds”
Your data scientist should be proficient in at least one or more programming languages. This should include statistical languages such as Python or “R”. Python and “R” form the bread and butter tools of any seasoned data scientist and are must-have skills!
In this blog post, we’ve introduced the role of the data scientist. We’ve looked at how you might want to consider if you need a dedicated data scientist position and identified the types of work you can expect to assign your data scientist. Finally, we looked at the skills and traits you should look for when recruiting a data scientist.
Hopefully, by reading this blog post, you have a better idea as to what a data scientist is and how they can help you or your business.
Here at Growth Acceleration Partners, we have extensive expertise in many verticals. Our nearshore business model can keep costs down whilst maintaining the same level of quality and professionalism you’d experience from a domestic team.
Our Centers of Engineering Excellence in Latin America focus on combining business acumen with development expertise to help your business. We can provide your organization with resources in the following areas:
- Software development for cloud and mobile applications
- Data analytics and data science
- Information systems
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence
- Predictive modeling
- QA and QA Automation