7 Career Paths for Data Analysts & Information Scientists
Data science is now a business reality. Any kind of enterprise that wants to remain competitive must find effective ways to leverage it. Data science refers to the ever-present challenge of developing truly actionable insights from huge quantities of data, emerging from multiple sources at high speeds every day. The volume of data is growing, and our understanding of how to use it must adapt.
In the never-ending quest to turn data into advantages, data analysts and data scientists are the key professionals standing at the forefront. These experts use a variety of mathematical models and software tools to “connect the dots” and make data useful to business decision-makers. They are increasingly in demand in a wide variety of different fields.
Let’s look at some major areas where data science is changing the landscape:
Virtually any type of business can benefit from data analysis — the key is developing the best practices that will work within a particular industry or market segment. In business at large, data analysis has typically been applied to sales and marketing initiatives. A deeper understanding of how prospective buyers think and act under different circumstances helps drive down costs and raise lifetime customer value. Customer service can also benefit significantly.
2) Finance & Insurance
No one is more acutely tuned in to risk and reward than the insurance professional. However until now, even the deepest collection of statistics related to insurance risk provided only a partial picture. Data analysis allows insurance pros to see data correlations more clearly than ever before. This process also plays a large role in the world of finance. It may soon be possible to cross-reference an entire history of commodity and security trades to analyze financial risk.
3) Retail Trade and E-Commerce
Arguably, e-commerce was the major catalyst that demonstrated the power of data-driven analysis to other industries. In e-commerce, changes to the user experience can be made instantly and tested by thousands of consumers in a single day. This allows an incredible scope of potential benefits when enough data are applied to any given problem. Plus, such changes can make an immediate positive impact in how brands and products are perceived.
Data-driven healthcare has the potential to truly personalize the care experience for people from all walks of life. Through data analysis, true ‘apples to apples’ comparisons can be made about people in different health circumstances and what medical treatments might be most beneficial to them. It can enhance the diagnostic process, reducing the likelihood of misdiagnosis. In addition, many consumer products have been created through data analysis that empower patients to play a larger role in their own care.
5) Information Technologies
Companies like Cisco and IBM are already at the forefront of recruiting experts in data analysis. Today’s data analysis tools could be directly responsible for paving the way to tomorrow’s great quantum leaps in pure processing power. Additionally, component manufacturers, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and content creators all benefit when online traffic patterns are better understood. Data analysis could prove vital to optimizing both bandwidth and information security for the future.
Public policy can be data-driven, too. Many government systems have traditionally operated on an isolated ‘ad hoc’ basis, without using the advantage of collaborative interaction. Through data analysis, a more robust and nuanced understanding of policy challenges and government services could be achieved. This would improve resource allocation to those who need help and reduce the odds of major oversights that put people in danger, whether the issue is natural disasters or clean water.
Telecommunication is evolving at a tremendous pace, thanks to the increasing availability of new wireless technologies. In the near future, “telecom” could not only refer to the tools we use to contact each other, but to virtually every item we interact with in an interdependent ‘Internet of Things.’ Data analysis professionals are building the tools and algorithms that will be used to gain a fuller understanding of how people interact with such tools, and how to improve services.
A data scientist’s background might reflect a focus on pure math and statistics or a more conventional specialization of computer science. Whatever the case, the fundamental skills are the same. The data scientist must be able to bring order to the apparent chaos of data, developing tools that deliver repeatable processes for illuminating its underlying messages.
Data science is currently one of the fastest growing and most in-demand specializations in the world of technology — and it shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. As businesses and government develop a deeper understanding of what ‘makes’ a data scientist, odds are favorable that this evolving discipline will be seen in even more unexpected places throughout the economy. Those who get started today may find a rewarding, challenging and remarkable career ahead of them.
Information means more than knowledge, it means solutions. When technology, people and information intersect, society and industry benefit. You can harness the power of information with our online Master of Information degree at Rutgers University.