Our very own Data Scientist, Colin Fraser, spoke to The Globe and Mail about his role here at CHIMP. We’ve picked a few highlights from the article to share in this post.
Job: Data scientist
The role: Use mathematical algorithms to utilize data for specific outcomes. These data sets and outcomes will vary depending on the organization and its needs, and it is up to a data scientist to evaluate the available data and tools and determine how best to apply them.
“The common thread is that they are using computational tools, programming languages and other computational resources to process data in some way that either generates an insight or makes a prediction about something important to the business,” explains Colin Fraser.
Mr. Fraser explains that while data scientists do spend part of their time coding, looking at data sets and building algorithms, much of the role involves learning about the latest data analytics tools and communicating opportunities and challenges with stakeholders.
“Whenever you’re involved in designing something into a product, there’s a whole lot of stakeholders, and you have to be able to communicate what it is you can and can’t do,” he said. “A great deal of my time is also spent just wrestling with the technology, trying to actually get the data from different sources and get it into a suitable form that I can deal with, and then trying to figure out the best way to achieve whatever I’m trying to do.”
Education: As a relatively new industry, there are no licensing or educational requirements, although many in the field hold advanced degrees.
“Most will have a master’s degree in either statistics or computer science, and many will have a PhD in a highly quantitative field, like engineering or physics,” Mr. Fraser said. “It’s hard to do with less than that.”
Challenges: One of the most significant challenges faced by data scientists is organizing data from various sources or in various formats and unifying them in a way that can be processed and utilized. Furthermore, as new tools and methods become available, data scientists are tasked with staying on top of a quickly moving industry.
Why they do it: Data scientists tend to enjoy tinkering with software tools and are on the leading edge of a field that is becoming increasingly vital to businesses.