What does it take to be a successful Data Scientist in the 21st century?

Analytics is the staple food for the company growth, this has been considered a fact by now and data analytics has move up to the priority list along with the investment in analytics but the consistent pain remains in finding the perfect data scientist.
For data scientists too it becomes increasingly important to place themselves out of the league from other data professionals. But how? Is it the subject matter expertise or the knowledge of technology and statistics or anything else that a data scientist needs to bring to the table? The panel discusses at Cypher 2016 discussed about all it takes to be a successful data scientist in 21st century.
Excerpts form the panel chaired by Sumeet Bansal, CEO & Co-founder at AnalytixLabs and panelists - Gaurav Vohra, CEO & Co-founder Jigsaw Academy, Debashish Banerjee, Director at Deloitte Analytics, Ashwani Kumar, Professor Indian Institute of Management Lucknow, Vishal Agarwal, COO for Cognizant’s Data Science Practice spoke about the panel topic.
Gaurav Vohra, CEO & Co-Founder, Jigsaw Academy, The Online School of Analytics said, “about 15 years ago data science professionals were statisticians and mathematicians who were involved in data analysis but today people from different domains are coming into analytics because of its vast applications”. He adds, “professionals today are reaping the benefits of data-driven decision making. One maybe surprised to know the kind of industries that find applications in Data Analytics, from cement companies to NGOs to the public sector, every industry is data-driven and that is one thing that has evolved over time.”
To elaborate on the skills needed in a data scientist, he said “what has not changed in many years is the need to be consistent and have the ability to learn. Since Analytics is evolving as a business function and finding its applications in different domains, the advent of technology is leading to the creation of new tools and technologies.” The ever evolving industry demands a data scientist to be someone who is constantly “learning and evolving” in the changing times. This is the key skill any organization would expect in a data scientist.
Some of the other key points that the panel discussed were:

  • The tools may be ever-changing and evolving but the analytics techniques are age old, dating back to 50-60 years.
     
  • Like in any other subject where the key is to staying upgraded and updated, to be a successful data scientist, one has to always evolve and adapt to the changing technologies.
     
  • The Indian education system should move towards a holistic approach of integrating individual subjects like mathematics, statistics, computer science, etc. into creating a body of knowledge function like analytics to have ready analytical skills at our disposal.
     
  • Intellectual curiosity is the number one intangible skill set a data scientist needs to have; the ability to fish out data, visualize and communicate insights, and tell a story since it’s a discovery driven science.
     

A data scientist should also possess the ability to tell a story


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