In my previous blog on the convoluted world of data scientist, I shed some light on who exactly is data scientist. There was a brief mention of how the data scientist is a mix of Business Intelligence, Statistical Modeler and Computer Savvy IT folks. The write-up discussed on how businesses should look at their workforce for data science as a capability and not as data scientist as a job. One area that has not been given its due share is how to get going in building data science area. How the businesses should proceed in filling their data science space. So, in this blog, I will spend sometime explaining an easy hack to get going on your data science journey without bankrupting yourself of hiring boatload of data scientists.
Let’s first try visiting what is already published on this area. A quick thought that comes to mind when thinking about the image that shows data science as three overlapping circles. One is Business, one is statistical modeler and one is technology. Where further common area shared between Technology, Business and statistician is written as data science. This is a great representation of where data science lies. But it sometimes confuses the viewer as well. From the look of it, one could guess that overlapping region comprises of the professionals who possess all the 3 talents and itâs about people. Whereas all it is suggesting is that overlap region contains common use cases that requires all 3 areas of business, statistician and technology.
Also, the image of 3 overlapping circles does not convey the complete story as well. It suggests overlap of some common use cases but not how resources will work across the three silos. We need a better representation to convey the accurate story. This will help in better understanding on how businesses should go about attacking the data science vertical in effective manner. We need a representation keeping in mind the workforce that is represented by these circles. Letâs call these resources in 3 broad silos Business Intelligence folks represented by Business circle, Statistical modeler is represented by statistician circle and IT/Computer engineers are represented by Technology circle. For simplicity lets assume these circles are not touching with each other and they are represented as 3 separated islands. This will provide a clear canvas of where we are and where we need to get.
This journey from 3 separated circles to 3 overlapping circle communicates some signals to understand how to achieve this capability from the talent perspective. We are given 3 separate islands a task to join them. There are few alternatives that comes to mind:
1. Hire data scientists, have them build their own circle in the middle. Let them keep expanding on their capability in all 3 directions (Business, Statistics and Technology). This will keep increasing the middle bubble to a point it touches and overlaps all the 3 circles. This particular solution is resulting in mass hiring of data scientists by mid-large scale enterprises. Most of these data scientist were not given real use cases and they are trying to find how they could bring the 3 circle closer to make the overlap happen. It does not take long to understand that this is not the most efficient process as it costs a bunch to businesses. This method sounds juicy as it gives Human Resources a good night sleep as HR could acquire Data Scientist talents for an area, which is high in demand. Now everyone needs to work on those hires and teach them 3 circles and the culture associated with it. Good thing in this method is that these professionals are extremely skilled and could roll the dice pretty quickly. However, they might take their own pace when it comes to identifying use cases and justifying their investments.
2. Another way that comes to mind is to set aside some professionals from each circle to start digging their way to common area where all the three could meet, learn from each other. Collaboration brings the best in most people. Via collaborative way, these professionals bring their respective culture, their SMEs in their line of business to the mix. This method looks to be the optimum solution, as it requires no outside help. This method does provide an organic way to build data science capability but it could take forever before these 3 camps could come to same page. This slowness, also trips this particular method as one of the most efficient one.
3. If one method is expensive but fast and other is cost effective but slow, what is the best method? It is somewhere between the slider of fast-expensive and slow-cost effective. So, hybrid looks to be bringing the best of both worlds. Having a data scientist and a council of SMEs from respective circles working together could keep the expense at check and at the same time brings the three camps closer faster via their SMEs. How many data scientist to begin with? Answer could be found out based on the company size, its complexity and wallet size. Now you could further hack the process to hire contracting data scientist to work as a liaison till the three camps find their overlap in professional capacity. So, this is the particular method which could businesses could explore to hack the data science world and get their businesses to big data compliant and data driven capable business.
So, experimenting with hybrid of shared responsibility between 3 circles of business, statistics and technology with a data scientist as a manager will bring businesses to speed when it comes to adapting themselves to big data ways of doing things.