Big Data: Career & Education Frontiers
Companies are willing to pay people a proverbial pretty penny to fill their resident data scientist shoes these days. However, there is apparently a shortage of people training in data science and analysis of big data, hence the popularity of data science programs like the University of Wisconsin’s graduate program in data science, which attempts to bridge the gap between data and business savvy. “What makes this program unique," says Missy Wittmann, Wisconsin DAMA Chapter president, "is that the curriculum was largely influenced by actual businesses seeking data scientists.” Real world applicability is key to making data science practical to marketing strategists in the business world.
A combination of pattern recognition and customer service builds trust, earns loyalty and improves sales. As Erik Krohn points out, however, in addition to analyzing customer preferences and feedback in order to improve sales, data science is also beginning to expand to other fields besides marketing, for example, medicine. “My hope is that we will see medical advances much more quickly than in the past because we are able to store and analyze so much more data.” This makes perfect sense, of course, since data was originally invented by scientists to track and measure the results of lab experiments.
If you didn’t know, there’s a resident data scientist at the White House. His name is DJ Patil and he’s a big proponent of higher education. He got his start at a community college in Cupertino, California, and he became a huge fan of mathematics via calculus as well as literature and poetry. There’s even the U.S. Digital Service web page which showcases the new digital science team and their projects analyzing data about areas such as health care and insurance, student loans, veterans’ benefits and immigration.
One of the causes the White House has taken up recently is the Police Data Initiative, which is a program that has enlisted researchers and police departments in the study of predictive analytics. This data is being examined by data scientists in order to improve the effectiveness of Early Intervention Systems (EIS) tracking systems that originated in the 1980s in order to track patterns of negative, violent and problematic behavior in police officers. The idea behind EIS was to prevent further inappropriate conduct and to proactively weed out law enforcement officials who would be most likely to overstep their authority and use unnecessary force against civilians.
Therefore, data science is being harnessed not only by businesses to upgrade their marketing departments, but also by the government, healthcare, law enforcement and technology sectors. Marketing strategy is evolving to include not only a comprehensive social media-based strategic plan but also, as Matt Diehl stresses, “Data science uses raw data and algorithms to predict customer behavior and improve user experience.” The future of business marketing will include not only content marketing, social media presence and search engine optimization, but also a resident data scientist to help analyze, synthesize and make sense of all of a company’s collected data about customer behavior, preferences and feedback.
Here’s the bottom line; if you’re trying to decide on something to focus on in your search for a practical, employable major, data science is the new frontier. There are a growing number of degree programs available, both in person and online, that specialize in data science and business data analytics. Whether you’re looking to go back to school after a number of years away, as a so-called nontraditional student, or you’re a high school student interested in a burgeoning and lucrative career track, big data is the way of the future.
Photo source: Luke Pamer