There are over 4 billion internet users worldwide that generate 2.5 quintillions of data every day.

Data is generated through daily interactions on social media, emails, transactions, cameras, satellites, and activity trackers. 90% of all the data ever created, was produced in the last two years. Moreover, the number is increasing with the continuous development of technology. The most important question for companies right now is how they will harness the value of big data. To determine how to get started, let’s establish what data science is and why you should hire a data scientist.

Data science is the discipline that turns data into actionable insights. The Journal of Data science defines it as “almost everything that has something to do with data: collecting, analysing, modelling, yet the most important part is its applications”. Data science became a buzzword after the publication of the HBR article “Data science, the sexiest job of the 21st century”, where D.J. Patil and Jeff Hammerbacher coined the term “data scientist” to describe their jobs at LinkedIn and Facebook respectively.

Jim Grey, a software pioneer and Microsoft researcher, argues that data science is the fourth paradigm of science. The first three were experimental, theoretical and more recently computational. In the fourth scientific paradigm, Jim Gray emphasised the importance of building technologies that enable us to use these large amounts of data.

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In “Data science from scratch”, Steven Cooper argues that the main reasons why you should have a data scientist in your organisation are:

  1. Persuades executives across all levels of the organisation about the importance of making data-driven strategic decisions;
  2. Analyses trends and continuously looks at the data to improve business relations which in turn increase profitability;
  3. Trains and challenges staff to focus on important issues. A data scientist advocates for the use of data in every decision made in the organisation as well as in pinpointing the challenges of the business;
  4. Works with one of the most important assets of your business. They have to continually improve the value that comes from the company’s data which translates in increased business opportunities;
  5. When you’re working with data scientists, you know that all your decisions are data-driven which minimises high risk;
  6. Data scientists are instrumental in change management. It’s essential to have a consultant quantify the success of your decisions and the way they affect your company;
  7. Find out who is your target audience by analysing multiple data sources. Knowing who you’re creating products for allows you to tailor your offering and improve profit margins;
  8. By using big data collection, you can find the candidates that best fit the needs of your business. The main advantages are cost-cutting and reduced timing to fill a new position.

A data scientist has to have a background in mathematics, statistics and computer science. However, what’s most important is the ability to work with complexity, interpret data and communicate clearly and effectively. Many data scientists use data storylines to make it easy for non-technical teams to understand data insights. They focus on delivering value and building lasting relationships.