Data Scientist, the new astronaut?

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The Harvard Business Review wrote an article that recently came across our desk again (Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century). It was another of those articles that got all of us db-ers a buzz – partly because we affiliated with something that sounded kinda cool, but mostly because of the perspective and insight to the value that some organisations are putting to their data.

The description of a Data Scientist is actually quite a complicated one, and by no means do we at digital balance even venture close to the realm. But what I think is really interesting is how the idea of ‘data scientist’ is even taking shape at all, the idea that the systems we now use in the world create so much data that there are scientists devoting their entire careers to the stuff makes my head spin.

Data Science = human behaviour + economics + math

I stumbled across another article recently which slammed the idea of data informing marketing strategy at all. The author argues that data has nothing to do with marketing strategy, and that it’s all down to intuition and sheer good luck.  While I’d really like to agree with his idea that data simplifies major marketing or business decisions down to simple gaming tactics, the reality  like it or not, is that data will always have a role to play when it comes to business.

Hunches simply don’t have clout in business

To give you an idea of why I think data is so imperative to business, I’ll share with you a personal observation.

We’re currently working on an internal communications strategy for a client who wants help to understand how they could deliver better ways to communicate to staff. As part of our research we ran a social technographics survey which uncovered some surprising truths about a broken communications channel. The client already had a ‘hunch’ that this channel was broken, but the fact that they now have some really significant data insights into how and why it was broken, means they are now empowered to build a business case to do something about it.

Getting the right data will make (or break) your business case

What I really like about my job is that no two projects are ever the same. Every organisation has a plethora of unique issues, and figuring out what data can help them make the best decisions for their customers and their goals is always challenging.

I’m a humanist at heart, but sometimes I like to think that being a Data Scientist when I grow up would be kinda cool.


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