Data. Four little letters, one multi-billion dollar opportunity for companies big and small. From the democratisation of programming languages and analytics tools to the emergence of data scientists as the key decision influencer of the modern workforce, data science and its underlying methodologies are transforming the face of business. Let’s discover how a qualification such as a Master of Data Science from RMIT can be a transformative experience for a data professional, and how it can drive positive innovation and change through your business.
Importance of Data to the Modern Workforce
It might not seem like it, but data has rapidly become critical to the operations of workforces worldwide. Data presents some bottlenecks, such as the three Vs – velocity, variety, and volume – however, with many modern platforms, these problems are much more addressable than in decades past.
Consider, for example, a logistics company that is able to use weather forecasts to proactively divert trucks before storms hit. As a result, they can minimise the amount of time lost by drivers being caught in bad weather. Once an idea that sat in the realm of business fantasy, modern-day logistics companies are now empowering their supply chains with data to help make decisions before crisis strikes.
Another way that data is being used online is for the benefit of the consumer – linking product data with online storefronts, enabling consumers to shop for the products they want from the comfort of their couch. While it may seem like a relatively minimal application of data, in reality, it may involve multiple complex systems to assist with product selection, delivery optimization, and promotional marketing.
These two concepts may seem incredibly complicated, but as data has become accessible, companies both small and large have been able to take it and yield it for the benefit of their organisations. Data has rapidly become a critical decision-making element for organisations – wielded with a tool as simple as a laptop, understanding data can make or break the modern entrepreneur.
The dangers of ignoring the data
It’s now mission-critical that businesses address and work with data. Ignoring data may seem like a sensible move, if you’ve never worked with it – however, not taking steps to make the most of the information your business has can be perilous, if not fatal for the fate of an organisation.
This can be seen in the ways that modern hacking groups have targeted organisations such as Medibank and Optus for ransom. For the modern firm, lacking appropriate knowledge about data can have unforeseen consequences. After all – would you trust a business with your data if they can’t even tell you how much is missing? At the bare minimum, understanding the basic characteristics of your data is not only beneficial for your staff and customers, but in times of crisis, can be used to help inform decision making. Data and modern data science methodologies should be considered essential in driving outcomes – rather than relying on gut instinct and outdated practices.
Modern business analytics – Empowering teams
Consider the role of data in the workplace, even ten years ago. Large datasets were often unwieldy, trapped within legacy servers, and inaccessible to most employees. As time has gone on, and technology has developed, the modern business analyst has emerged from the fold as a power user of modern tools and techniques. Programming languages such as SQL and Python enable data analysts to get more out of data within the business, by delving into the complexities of large databases and providing actionable insights. This is further supported through the use of modern visualisation tools such as PowerBI and Tableau, enabling end users to dive in, transform, and express their data in a way that is helpful and interesting.
Business analysts use a mix of modern-day analytics tools to understand processes and provide meaningful recommendations. They may work in small teams, or be embedded with larger, cross-disciplinary teams, and are essential to understanding the data on hand in many large firms.
Actionable insights – the modern data scientist
Another way that data science methods have evolved in recent years has been the emergence of the modern data scientist as a titan of business operations, and a key influencer in data decision-making. Taking data from a variety of structured and unstructured sources, a data scientist can use data to not only recommend insights, but opportunities for testing and learning, across all facets of a business.
A data scientist may go beyond simply data reading, however, – skilled data scientists may use their insights to create complex forecasting models to proactively predict the impact of events such as seasonal sales or weather disruptions, enabling other users of data to get a clear read on the potential for opportunities. Being a data scientist is all about using what they know to empower new and innovative decision-making, and at the end of the day, there are very few roles in a business that can have the same level of impact on a company.
Is artificial intelligence the future of analytics?
One such consideration to keep in mind with data is the proliferation of buzzwords such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) within the corporate workforce. While there is undoubtedly some benefit to the use of tools such as large language models like OpenAI and generative tools such as Midjourney, one must be mindful that there is a range of ethical and legal concerns that currently constrain the use of these tools in the workplace. Keep in mind that these may change as policies develop in this emerging industry. However, be sure to stay informed on the use of AI and ML, particularly in the data space – it has the potential to be immensely powerful for innovative organisations.
Where will the data take you next?
From a simple shop front to a career in multinational firms such as banking, logistics, or retail, having a recognized qualification in data science can open the door to a range of opportunities in areas you may not realise were available. From a database analyst to a business analyst or data scientist, you never know where the next opportunity may be available. If data is a career that you’re looking to pursue, get in touch with a career advisor and discuss your options. You never know – you may have just stepped into a brand-new career.
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