6 Key Data Science Skills Every Business Needs in 2018

Many businesses are realising the wealth of value that is held in their data, but unlocking this value requires skills, process and the right people. The more data a business has, the more value they hold. But the flip-side to this is that the larger the data volume, the more difficult it is to analyse and extract value. The extraction and analysis process is where many firms stumble, unsure of what is needed and unaware of how to proceed. As Sanjiv Patel, Director of Data Science for Cisco, suggests, these businesses are “data-rich but insight-poor”.

The key to extracting the valuable data and analysing it to release its wealth lies in a set of specific skills that every business needs to adopt. These are skills that should not only be limited to your core data functions but throughout the business.

1. Analytical Ability

Arguably the fundamental skill is the ability to analyse the data that your business holds. Your data evangelists must be able to differentiate between useful (valuable) data and the data that is irrelevant to your business’s strategic requirements. If you are hiring a data team, engaging with a data science consultancy, or simply looking for a departmental data champion, the ability to transform data into actionable business insight is crucial.

2. Programming

There are a variety of skills that fall into the computer science field that are valuable to a business. The ability to program – particularly using Python or R  – enables your business to be capable of creating algorithms that can translate data into business insights. A data scientist who understands machine learning and the technical challenges of cloud computing will be an asset to the team and bring the additional skills that might otherwise cost a business more in their data projects.

3. Business Acumen

The most successful and valuable data scientists are those who fully understand the strategic objectives of the business and use them to define the roadmap of data projects. Your data science team needs an understanding of the ambitions of the business in order to achieve outcomes that match the leadership’s expectations. Where many businesses fail with data science projects is in giving their data teams limited visibility of the holistic business objectives. Those working the data should understand exactly what it is that they are looking out for, what the firm intends to do with the data and the overall goals of the company. This will hone in all data activity and provide relevant and useful results.

4. Innovation and Creativity

Data science is a new concept to many businesses and the ideal scientist recognises that most businesses acknowledge the need but are unsure of the processes and even the potential. A business may have an objective or an idea of how they might use their data but the data scientist should be given some creative freedom to construct the roadmap to achieve these goals. The most valuable data scientists will be those who share their knowledge and help the business understand the potential of harvesting, analysing and gaining from the data that they hold. These individuals will help a business develop through finding new data and building strategies that meet business needs in an innovative way through creative analysis and application.

5. Data Security

Making sure the data is available to the people who need it sounds obvious, however, we have learnt in some organisations this is not always the case. Data experts are your business’ ambassadors to data security. Data security is very important and sensitive, and we do encourage to have the right protocols and measures in place to keep the data secure. However, the data doesn’t have to be locked away in a volt with the password in Klingon to allow access. Make sure that if you have an in-house or external data science resource that they can access the data. The quicker this can be set up the faster the delivery of the insights will be.

6. Communication and Presentation

Your data scientists may have uncovered some game-changing insight, but if they struggle at communicating it effectively to your leadership team it is likely to be a missed opportunity. Data scientists who recognise the complexities of their output and can translate their findings into a non-technical language, highlighting the actions the business needs to take and the clear benefits are the greatest assets to any business.

If you need help with your data needs Pivigo can help. From anything from a small data project to a full global data strategy, get in touch with us at info@pivigo.com

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