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Citizen data scientists seen increasing

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By Denise A. Valdez
Reporter

THE NUMBER of available data scientists around the world may soon not be enough to address the growing demand for expertise in the field, and eventually result in the rise of more citizen data scientists (CDS) to help do the job, ASG Technologies Group, Inc. said.

In a recent interview with BusinessWorld, ASG Technologies General Manager for Asia Pacific Praveen Kumar said many companies are unable to get data scientists as desired because of its high costs, but they remain sought-after in hopes of making sense of company data to improve business performance and internal processes.

“Data scientists, if you notice in many organizations, don’t exist… The reason they don’t exist is having a data scientist as a full time job is a lot of costs… Even in companies where there are data scientists, the big issue is that the number of data scientists are not enough to crunch the data that is available across different lines of business and provide the inputs that are needed…,” he said.

“This is where CDS come into play. These are primarily people who are within the same company, but have domain knowledge or industry knowledge in a particular topic… Their primary job is something else that they will contribute to the data scientist that exist within the organization in terms of inputs, changes, value additions, etcetera,” he added.

CDS are basically company employees who could function on top of their day-to-day job as bridge between data scientists and company leaders to arrive at conclusions faster and more efficiently. By learning around 30% to 50% of what data scientists do, CDS are expected to sort what information needs to be extracted from a certain IT process.

Mr. Kumar noted given the current situation, the emergence of CDS may become a trend among companies in the next two years.

“If you look at it, data scientists were there even five years back. This momentum has picked up in the past couple of years in terms of the volume of data that is there. I guess in the next couple of years you would see CDS’s momentum picking up also,” he said.

Currently, Mr. Kumar said some large financial banks, insurance companies and mature governments have started turning to CDS to help ease the job of data scientists and make the process of data crunching more efficient.

“They have started approaching people within their financial units to start being CDSs as part of the data scientists that they hire… Because they can’t hire 30 data scientists even if they want to. One is the money, second is the skills that are available, and thirdly the domain knowledge that actually exist within the market place,” he added.

Although third party companies also try to offer services that aim to do the same function and offer help in data analysis, Mr. Kumar said CDS shouldn’t be a threat but rather an aid in realizing the industry’s full potential.

“It helps companies like us to understand from them how to fine-tune certain areas of products which are relative to the domain rather than the IT portion of it alone, because we would also understand the industry trends, because they come from an industry domain perspective. They know how this industry is going to evolve, where is it going. So we can fine-tune our software,” he said.