A beginner’s guide to understanding how data science works
In our technology-driven world, data is allowing businesses to grow like never before. This is why data science is a vital practice in every industry, as it helps organizations make better-informed decisions and predictions by evaluating the vast amount of data available.
Here’s the thing though: Unless you’re familiar with data science and its applications, you’re simply not utilizing your available data to its full potential. As a result, your business could be missing out on valuable opportunities to grow and expand your commercial revenue.
In this guide, you’ll learn what data science is, and why it is so important for your business’s success.
Data Science 101
- 1. What is data science?
- 2. Why data science is important?
- 3. The data science life cycle
- 4. What does a data scientist do?
1. What is data science?
Data science is a multidisciplinary field that brings together statistics, data analysis, informatics, and their related methods in order to understand and explore phenomena within structured and unstructured data. It’s closely related to areas including:
- Data mining
- Big data
- Machine learning
Data science also uses practices and concepts borrowed from several other fields involving:
- Computer science
- Information science
- Domain knowledge
The word ‘data science’ has been around since the 1960s, but in the past, it was used to also mean ‘computer science.’ As a field of study, however, data science is considered to be young. It developed out of the disciplines of statistical analysis and data mining.
The Data Science Journal was released in 2002, and by 2008, the title of data scientist had been coined and the field quickly grew to prominence.
2. Why data science is important?
Let’s take a look at some reasons why data science is so important.
- Deeper connections with customers. Data science allows companies to connect with their customers on a deeper and more meaningful level than what was once possible, thanks to the analysis of available data. This data paints a more comprehensive picture of a company’s target customer, and this understanding plays an essential role in the success of a product or service.
- More powerful marketing. It also creates better product connections by providing the data needed for an organization to tell its brand story more powerfully. Data science can answer a myriad of questions about a company’s target audience, therefore allowing them to tweak their marketing messages and brand identity accordingly.
- Applicable to every industry. Data science and its results can be applied to any industry, whether it’s education, travel, healthcare, and more. With the help of a data scientist, every field can use data to make better-informed decisions for their customers and address challenges more successfully.
- Data is an unlimited resource. The availability of data on a global scale is increasing by the second, so it’s a resource that will never become limited. When this data is utilized correctly and to its full potential by a data scientist, it holds the key to unlimited potential and growth.
- Utilized across every department. Data science can also be utilized across every department of an organization, meaning that it has the potential to assist every team. From human resources and IT to resource management and customer service — data science isn’t just a field of study that assists senior leadership roles only. Everyone has the potential to benefit.
- Can cut down existing costs. Along with helping a company to make more money by boosting its sales, data science can also reveal how a company can save money by cutting down on existing costs. A data scientist can use data to quantify the success of current procedures, tools, or technology. Using this data, they can also suggest alternative methods which are more successful, yet also most cost-effective.
3. The data science life cycle
The data science life cycle contains five distinct stages, which all include different tasks and techniques:
- Capture (Data Acquisition, Data Entry, Signal Reception, Data Extraction). This stage consists of collecting data relevant to the business problem you are about to solve and relies heavily on examining both structured and unstructured data to gain insights.Structured data is quantitative data, meaning it’s in the form of numbers and values. It’s highly organized and easily searchable in databases that manage data in a traditional table format. Unstructured data, on the other hand, has no predetermined format or organization, making it much harder to gather, process, and examine. It’s referred to as qualitative data, meaning it’s made up of data in the form of text files, audio files, and video files.
- Maintain (Data Warehousing, Data Cleansing, Data Staging, Data Processing, Data Architecture). This stage involves taking the raw data and removing errors that can negatively impact your data model. These might include duplicated entries, inaccurate input data, data entries that were modified, updated, or deleted, and missing values.
- Process (Data Mining, Clustering/Classification, Data Modeling, Data Summarization). Here the data scientist analyzes the essential patterns involved by building an interactive dashboard to see how data reflects important insights. This will allow him to analyze what is guiding the variable features of the business, such as increases or decreases.
- Analyze (Exploratory/Confirmatory, Predictive Analysis, Regression, Text Mining, Qualitative Analysis). This stage involves searching through vast amounts of computerized data to discover useful patterns or trends, as well as to make better-informed decisions and predictions. It’s also referred to as data archaeology, information harvesting, information discovery, or knowledge extraction.
- Communicate (Data Reporting, Data Visualization, Business Intelligence, Decision Making). In this final stage, the data scientist creates the final report which may also include a final and in-depth presentation of the data mining results.
4. What does a data scientist do?
A data scientist examines, processes, and models data, then interprets the findings to create actionable plans for organizations. They must work with large sets of data — both structured and unstructured — from multiple sources, including social media feeds, mobile devices, emails, and more.
Often, this data can be complex and won’t fit neatly into a typical database. They must therefore draw on their knowledge from fields including computer science, statistics, and mathematics while utilizing their skills in both technology and social science to find trends among the data and uncover successful solutions to business challenges.
Data scientists work collaboratively with other departments throughout their organization, such as marketing, customer success, and operations.
Along with making data-driven organizational decisions, data scientists must also be able to communicate complex ideas, work as leaders and team members, and be high-level analytical thinkers.
Typically, a data scientist’s duties and responsibilities may include:
- Resolving business challenges through undirected research and determining open-ended industry questions
- Extracting large amounts of structured and unstructured data from relational databases, as well as unstructured data through web-scraping, APIs, and surveys
- Organizing data for use in predictive and prescriptive modeling through complex analytical methods, machine learning, and statistical methods
- Cleaning data to prepare it for pre-processing and modeling
- Establishing how to manage missing data and look for trends and/or opportunities in datasets
- Discovering new algorithms to assist with automating repetitive work and solving other business problems
- Creating data visualizations and reports, as well as communicating predictions and results to management staff and other departments
- Proposing cost-effective and time-saving changes to existing company procedures and strategies
Data science might be a relatively new field of study, but it has quickly become a significant one in the business world. Not only is it being utilized across every industry on a global scale, but it also provides the key to overcoming a number of business problems and achieving success like never before.
Through understanding what data science is, and why it matters to businesses, you now have the thorough knowledge under your belt to start embracing data science and its benefits in your own venture.