Author, inventor and undersea explorer Sir Arthur Charles Clarke once said: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” While the field of data analytics has experienced some drastic changes over the last decade – in terms of variety, volume and velocity of information – industry experts argue that the analytics space still has some way to go before it can be likened to the level of enchanting innovation described above.
And the steward of this journey is the data scientist. Described by the Harvard Business Review as one of the sexiest jobs of the 21st century, a data scientist is an individual with the required skillset and mindset to discover the untold stories hidden in the world of big data. Data scientists have the expertise and knowhow to deploy and explore massive amounts of data in an agile and flexible manner, says Yigit Karabag, information management and analytics practice manager for SAS in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. “Companies should be recruiting this new breed of professionals. They’re most definitely the key to innovation and are having a tangible impact on business and society.” The emergence of an elaborate data community only serves to reinforce the value of these individuals and drive the demand for data scientists.
For Steven Ing, associate consultant at BSG, the key differentiator in today’s ever-changing business landscape is the effective use of the talent and intelligence at your disposal. Acknowledging that the number-one focus area for technology spend globally is data and data analytics, he believes organisations should position these talented people to better tap into the potential of data as a strategic business asset. Given the current data-rich business landscape, Davide Hanan, MD of Qlikview South Africa, calls on organisations to not just rely on data experts, suggesting businesses educate as many people as possible – at all levels of the organisations – to work with data. By empowering all business users to create their own data apps and reports, the business is freeing up IT professionals to focus their attention on actually managing the data and keeping it secure.