We're all data scientists now
by Julia King
If you're like me and broke into a sweat when confronted with any kind of…
(Jul 23, 2014) — by Julia King
Link To Articlehttp://www.computerworld.com.au/article/550503/julia_king_we_re_all_data_scientists_now/?utm_medium=rss&utm_source=taxonomyfeed
If you're like me and broke into a sweat when confronted with any kind of mandatory
math or statistics courses in college, you're in for a world of hurt now -- a world
where data reigns and making sense of it all is compulsory.
Every day, the world's data volume balloons by another 2.5 quintillion bytes, according to Eric Siegel, a former assistant
professor at Columbia University and author of Predictive Analytics: The Power to
Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie or Die. I should explain to all the English majors
out there that a quintillion is a 1 with 18 zeroes after it.
That daily surge in data includes point-of-sale information, customer service data
from all of those conversations that are "recorded for your protection" and myriad
digital emissions from your car, refrigerator and even from some artificial joints.
Data associated with legal records, social media, financial calculations, government
reports, supply chain updates and even signals from outer space is also piling up.
And here's the scary math part. It's up to each one of us -- and that includes fellow
English literature majors, my friend -- to figure out what's useful, what's crap and
what's truly valuable, not only in our work, but in our schools, our homes, our neighborhoods,
even our bodies. Look no further than the nutrition facts on your granola bar.
That means attaining analytics literacy. This is especially critical as more and more
people gain greater, faster mobile access to data on personal smart devices.
"As front-line workers have their capabilities augmented by digital technologies,
they are emboldened to make informed, real-time decisions and encouraged to become
more engaged with the organization," notes a recent report by McKinsey Global Institute.
But these workers must know how to deal with all of the data coming their way if it's
to yield the flabbergasting productivity gains McKinsey predicts. In the manufacturing
sector alone, the business consultancy maintains that big data and analytics can yield
improvements in production, supply chain and R&D amounting to something between $125
billion and $270 billion.
The sobering news is this, courtesy of IDC analyst Dan Vesset: "Better or easier-to-use
software tools alone are not going to solve the problem. There's also a need to educate
people on how to interpret results, how to establish hypotheses and how to test them.
It's very easy to royally mess up and come up with a wrong conclusion."
Virtually all organizations require the critical input of non-IT workers to define
and collect the right data that will produce value. At Texas Children's Hospital,
nurses, physicians and billing and administrative personnel all helped decide which
data to collect on the hospital's electronic medical records.
"In healthcare, that level of analytics behavior and mindset is where we're going,"
to accomplish goals like improving patient health and reducing hospital stays, minimizing
infection rates and cutting overall costs.
To prepare clinicians for their inevitable big data and analytics work, "I foresee applied analytics courses in college for everyone," says Davis.
So does Jennifer Priestly, a professor of applied statistics and data science at Georgia's
Kennesaw State University, which already offers 50 different applied statistics courses, all of which require
working on real-world data sets supplied to the university by participating corporations.
"I think data science is going to be as foundational to education as English," Priestly says. "The reason
is everybody is dealing with data. Everybody has to understand the basics of how to
analyze data. Data science doesn't belong in the business school. Everybody should
take data science."
Like I said, English majors are in for a world of hurt. Roll over, Emily Dickinson.
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.