September 08, 2016
What can you expect from a data expert?
The rise of ‘big data’ has utterly transformed the way companies do business, and how they understand their customers or client bases. Companies are now able to gather high volumes of good-quality, specific and detailed data (largely due to the proliferation of smartphones and other connected devices) from which to pinpoint trends and patterns, and use predictive modelling to turn these into accurate forecasts of future consumer behaviour.
Data science is arguably one of the most rapidly growing professions at the moment, due to the high demand for data intelligence skills among employers.
Being able to capture large amounts of data is only valuable if you have access to professionals who can help you leverage it, whether that’s through artificial intelligence, data mining, machine learning or data modelling. Hiring a data expert is not only the best way to stay ahead of the competition, but will also offer a significant return on investment if implemented properly.
Understand which skills you need
The first thing to understand about data science is that, as a relatively new discipline (the term ‘data scientist’ was coined in 2008 by D.J. Patil and Jeff Hammerbacher), there is currently no specific, university-level training offered. You may find that some data experts have attended dedicated academies or short courses, but the main criteria are that they are professionals with solid experience in analytics, communication, strategy and business.
Before you hire a data expert, it’s important to understand the exact skills your company needs. Big data consulting jobs, data science jobs and machine learning jobs incorporate a variety of roles. A ‘data scientist’, for example, processes and explores your company’s complex data in order to generate valuable insights, whereas a ‘data consultant’ or ‘data strategist’ develops business-wide strategies to help your team put that data to good use.
The difference between data scientists and data consultants
Data scientists and data consultants are both experts in the digital world and, though their roles are different, they work perfectly together to help your company leverage its data. A data scientist can identify rich data sources and structure large volumes of seemingly disordered data into clear results, creating an actionable data model for your company. If you currently analyse your data on an ad-hoc basis, then data scientists can help you maintain an ongoing relationship with it, using technologies like Hadoop (an open-source software framework), cloud computing and data visualisation to do so.
A ‘data consultant’, or ‘data strategist’, on the other hand, takes this data and uses it to create an effective and easy-to-understand strategy for your business. Data consultants have highly strategic minds and strong backgrounds in data; as senior-level professionals, they have most likely trained in data analytics and worked in a number of complex roles. This experience enables them to interpret and implement your data in a way that is most relevant, tailored and profitable to your business.
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On-demand data experts
One of the biggest challenges of the big-data world is that it is constantly changing. Professionals working in data need to be continuously learning in order to keep up with the latest trends, technologies and developments so that they can help companies get the most out of their data – meaning they need to invest in regular training and the newest technologies. A technique that they were able to use a year ago might be outdated today, perhaps because a new piece of technology came onto the market.
This is where the on-demand talent economy can help companies save time, money and resources. Rather than training up data teams in-house, and keeping track of the skills and technologies your company needs to get the most out of its data, CEOs and decision-makers can now connect with independent data professionals with the most up-to-date skills, industry knowledge, and access to technology, and employ them on an on-demand basis – enabling them to benefit from a consistently fresh approach to managing big data.
Here at certace, we help businesses curate talent pools of highly skilled data consultants, scientists and strategists. Contact us to find out more.