(SDN) — THIS is a Big Data’s world, but it would be nothing without a data scientist.
With apologies to James Brown and his classic “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” song.
One of the buzzwords, an operative word or term in the digital world, happens to be Big Data. With Big Data, comes analytics. With analytics comes data scientists.
For data scientists are what could be a special breed of technology experts deep into digital transformation, its why’s and how’s for businesses to take advantage of the immense amount of data, information out there in cyberspace. Either from organizations’ own massive trove of customers’ information, or data coming from without.
But in order for organizations — private and public — such as enterprises, small and medium businesses, government agencies, etc., to leverage their accumulation of data they need experts who will do the data science, the analytics, the crunching of numbers, to make data useful, to make data actionable.
For what’s data’s use if it just accumulate in data centers or in the cloud — untouched.
That’s the job of data scientists, to sift through the maize of information and transform it to something that businesses can use to enhance operation, increase productivity, keep the company abreast, make the company understand customers and products well and, just as important if not the most important, empower organizations to make decisions faster.
Take it from Anthony Fletcher, chief executive of Graze, a snack company.
“The way you can use data is a way not just to understand customers and products better, but also be organized in a way that makes decision-making faster and allows people to have more autonomy,” he said in article published by Raconteur.net.
In the same article, another business executive describes data scientists in a business organization as its rocket scientist.
“Data scientists are the rocket scientists of the digital world and the role of the chief data scientist (CDS) is emerging as the influence of data spreads horizontally across business functions,” said James Parsons, chief executive of digital workforce and consultancy Arrows Group.
Apparently, the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council on Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) has grasped the vital role of data scientists in this fast-moving, technology-heavy digital world.
To this end, the Innovation Council is helping build the pool of data scientists in the country to help address the demand.
In a press statement PCIEERD sent to SDN — Science and Digital News, noting technology’s becoming ubiquitous, including data science, said it “has produced 141 data training graduates and is looking forward to training more to keep up with the market.”
One of them is Zito Relova, a practicing professional, who honed his talent further through innovative learning programs that help him and the others expand their skill set from the comfort of their own homes and schedule.
Something that PCIEERD made available for the 141 data science trainees.
“Being a big believer in online courses, the training course provided me with a way to keep learning on my own time without the need to be physically present in a school,” Relova said, of the Batch 1 graduates of the training program.
He said the course provided him the opportunity to learn what he called “these other tools that I could integrate with my existing skill set…opened my to new ways of doing things.”
The head of PCIEERD, one of the three Councils of the DOST, looks positively on the potential contributions of the new addition to the pool of Filipino data scientists.
He is counting on them to be “a big boost to government, academe, and industry as they can help in crafting data-driven decisions and policies that can help shape the economy.”
DOST-PCIEERD Executive Director Dr. Enrico C. Paringit expressed optimism that the newly-trained data scientists will be a big boost to government, academe, and industry as they can help in crafting data-driven decisions and policies that can help shape the economy.
“The new technologies we enjoy today generates, processes, and uses enormous amounts of data which if put into good use can help solve most of our problems. The data scientists we have trained can provide a newer perspective in terms of looking for solutions or responding to the call of the times,” he said.
What the trainees studied, PCIEERD said, was something called “Learning at Scale training” which was strictly conducted online in partnership with MOOCs.PH, a local startup. It offers the needed training which international universities developed through Coursera.
Relova liked the program’s flexibility.
“The best part of the experience for me is the flexibility of the program. It allows people to continue learning despite having other obligations in life. You don’t have to plan your life around your education anymore, you can always learn in your own time,” he said.
It is also easily accessible.
“In line with that is the accessibility of the program. Massive open online courses are very affordable and can be taken by anyone with an internet connection. In my experience with online courses, I have been fortunate to meet people from all walks of life who are very grateful for the opportunities that learning online has given them,” he added.
DOST-PCIEERD’s Batch 1 of 141 data scientists who completed their training in collaboration with MOOCHs.PH as the Innovation Council helps in building a pool of technology experts on data science and analytics. (PCIEERD)
Paringit, on the other hand, spoke of the potential contributions of data science, citing the need to build a pool of technology experts.
“Skills in data science also intends to respond to local needs and demands for science-based solutions. In order to cater to this, we need to grow our own talent pool and community of experts in the field who can help address these demands and bring up our global standing in terms of data analytics,” the PCIEERD chief said.
Comprising the course are four modules, namely:
- The Data Scientist’s Toolbox,
- R Programming,
- Getting and Cleaning Data, and,
- Exploratory Data Analysis. Apart from this, Coursera also offers an additional wave of learning tracks with further topics centering on data and its applications to studying trends, global movements, human behavior, and the like.
The Council said the Batch 1 graduates, all 141 of them, are now eligible and were automatically accepted for the next four advanced courses of the entire data science track training program, allowing them to maximize what they have learned and applying them to real life situations and at work.
For the advanced courses, they will be studying Modules 6-8 of the Data Science specialization by Johns Hopkins University.
Relova noted that data science is only just starting in the country, and few has any idea about it.
“Data science in the Philippines is still very much in its infancy. Only a small percentage of people are familiar with the field. Despite this, there are actually a lot of people who want to break into data science but are just not sure how to do it.
“The training definitely helped me expand my skill set. As a data scientist, I had always used a specific set of tools for my work. I knew about the other tools that existed but never really taught myself how to use them,” he said.
Paringit cited what opportunities a training on data science provides to the government, such as becoming more innovative and ability to offer improve services, building a community of skilled experts that can improve the country’s global competitiveness in the field.
“It’s not just data science as it is. Matching the right talents with the right skills will enable us to address common needs of the Filipino: internet usage, speech and image recognition, fraud and risk detection, logistics, and so much more, the PCIEERD executive director said.
In relation with this, PCIEERD said the data science training graduates are available for employment. Interested partner institutions and/or employers may contact them through the Innovation Council’s Human Resources and Institution Development Division (HRIDD) at firstname.lastname@example.org. (SDN)
Featured image courtesy of The Digital Artist and Pixabay.