The 8 Actors A Data Scientist Must Meet

The 8 Actors A Data Scientist Must Meet

If you are on the verge of joining the Analytics industry, your vision of an ideal day in a life of a practitioner could be someone who effortlessly dives into data to create that perfect beer-and-nappy Eureka insight moment (technically termed as market basket analysis) which shows the unlikely insight that beer and diapers get bought together during game nights; a solution that gets implemented immediately in the retail store design and in turn leads to a dramatic increase in revenue growth.

Truth is the journey from data to revenue growth is more like a well-crafted drama that unfolds across many different stages. There are various actors that need to enact their roles, successfully, on each of these make-shift stages, for the journey to be completed.

Intrigued? Let’s see how:

Quote: “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results” – Sir Winston Churchill

Role: Strategist

Script: Let’s say the business faces a profitability problem or an issue of increased credit risk. The strategist must work with the business to understand the context and convert that into an analytics problem which can be addressed by data. Data then becomes an enabler to understand patterns and help solve the problem.

Quote: “Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the door that is open.” – Alexander Graham Bell

Role: Engineer

Script: Building an analytics solution or a product requires the engineer to build per specification, not overbuild nor create a weak foundation. One must create the right data structure and scale up the technology per specification.

Quote: “The curious case of the dog in the night time was there was no dog in the night time.” – Sherlock Holmes

Role: Investigator

Script: Patterns and insight are like hidden clues within the many red herrings that data can provide. It requires an investigators’ curiosity to go beyond the obvious suspects and solve for the real mystery, to reach the insights aha moment.

Quote: “To invent you need good imagination and a pile of junk.” – Thomas A.Edison

Role: Inventor

Script: The inventor needs to build technical depth from data engineering techniques to methods of visualization and from the latest in machine learning and artificial intelligence to the understanding of behaviors of customer, market and competition; to be able to create disruptive new solutions for the ever-changing business dynamics.

Quote: “In fire you can plan everything out to the minute and a minute before that – everything changes.” – Dan Felix

Role: Firefighter

Script: Management queries, looming deadlines, missing data, model that provide little insight, clients that need immediate results; the firefighter uses his insights hose to douse the multiple small and big fires that can derail a business.

Quote: “There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” – JK Rowling

Role: Storyteller

Script: At every step of the data and insight journey, the story needs to be told, of the assumptions and the recommendations; stories that will make impact clear to business leaders who may not sometimes understand the technical details of the analytics machinery.

Quote: “Metaphorically, governance is like a “Steer,” Risk Management is like a “Brake.” ― Pearl Zhu

Role: Governance

Script: Data comes with its own moral code. Are the right controls in place to ensure no sensitive data gets misused for fraudulent uses? And to what limit is personalization a benefit and not an intrusion? The governor looks at the potential risks data can bring, if not harnessed correctly.

Quote: “We were all on this ship in the sixties, our generation, a ship going to discover the New World. And the Beatles were in the crow’s nest of that ship.” – John Lennon

Role: Change agent

Script: The last mile of Analytics implementation requires the solution to be implemented back in the business so that it becomes scalable and repeatable. It’s the change in the retail store design for the beer and nappy example or it could be the incorporation of a new campaign methodology to improve marketing ROI. It requires managing and negotiating change in the earlier business process and changing mindsets of people who drive it.

8 actors essaying their scripted roles. As the curtains fall and all the eight actors take a bow, you glance at the mirror.

There stand the 8 actors, all wearing your face. These are all roles you get to play, questions you need to ask as you enter the world of Analytics.

Author: Prithvijit Roy