Why you should be learning data skills


People tend to consider data science in superlatives.

Data science is “the sexiest job of the 21st century”. Data science is “the fastest growing industry”. But what makes it so attractive and why is it in so much demand?

Here are five key reasons why you should be learning data skills, and why data will quickly become your greatest ally in the office.

Because they help your powers of persuasion

Business decisions will lead to nothing unless relevant information is used to inform them. With data, hunches and biases can be a thing of the past. Running your company’s data through analytics software will give you evidence-based results, which will show you and your colleagues the best options for your business. I have found that working with data helps to improve presentation skills, as they encourage us to focus on delivering facts and figures, rather than on feelings or hunches, to support our argument.

Because they tell you where to improve

Many companies wonder where they can improve but don’t know where to start. Using algorithms that show gaps in business operations and sales will help you to identify the health of the company in all the areas for which data is available. And why stop there? Using public datasets can help you to see how you fare against your competitors. Head over to Google Trends and plug in both company names – among other valuable factors, you will see how both fare in search interest across time and place.

Because they make things fun

We all know that Netflix and Spotify use customer data to tailor their offers. This bespoke approach is part of the pleasure of using these platforms. Users want platforms that adapt to their interests, and the best way to do that is through data. For Netflix, the more a customer up-votes a genre, the more that genre will be displayed to them. The added benefit is that as customers use the platform it will gather more data from them, thus leading to more accurate predictions – a virtuous cycle of sorts. Implementing a policy to gather customer reactions can help companies make decisions that appeal to their user base.

Because they reveal what people want

Amazon has been running an “anticipatory shipping” programme for a while now, which predicts what each of its customers will want and ships the item to a warehouse near them before they make the purchase. Clever, isn’t it? It’s all thanks to data. Amazon uses their customers’ purchase and browsing histories to make these predictions, and as the customer continues to use the platform, Amazon will continue to learn more about its customers and become more responsive to market needs.

Because they predict future investments

Starbucks uses data science to decide where in the world they should put their next store. This information is not only based on geographical distance from their other stores but also customer footfall and demographic information in their target district. This level of information has helped the coffee giant to target the sites that will result in the greatest gains for the company.

Data skills, then, offer you a valuable leg up across all areas of business, from driving initial business decisions to the customer-facing front-end. Crucially, the more data you have, the more precise your solutions will be. So, start gathering data today, and your company will thank you in the future.

Want to get skilled in data? Why not try out an online course; there are many beginners’ courses available that require very little mathematical knowledge and that are specifically designed to get your feet wet. Alternatively, pick up a beginners’ book on data science. You’ll have all the skills you need after a few mornings of reading on your commute to work.

About the author

Kirill Eremenko is the founder of the data science academy SuperDataScience and the author of new book Confident Data Skills, published by Kogan Page, priced £14.99. The book will help you master the fundamentals of working with data and supercharge your career.

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