What everybody ought to know about a Data Scientist

Data Science   |   
Published May 26, 2015   |   

A few years ago, The Harvard Business Review hailed the role of data scientist “The sexiest job of the 21st century”. But do you know what it means to be a data scientist? Well, let’s first look into some of the most famous quotes by experts on data science and data scientists.
Data scientists “tend to be “hard scientists”, particularly physicists, rather than computer science majors. Physicists have a strong mathematical background, computing skills, and come from a discipline in which survival depends on getting the most from the data. They have to think about the big picture, the big problem – DJ Patil, VP of Product at RelateIQ
“They need to find nuggets of truth in data and then explain it to the Business leaders” – Rchard Snee Emc
“A data scientist is someone who knows more statistics than a computer scientist and more Computer science than a statistician” – Josh Blumenstock
“Data scientist is just a sexed up word for a statistician” – Nate Silver
“Data scientists are involved with gathering data, massaging it into a tractable form, making it tell its story, and presenting that story to others” – Mike Loukides, VP, O’Reilly Media
“The data scientist was called, only half-jokingly, a caped superhero” – Ben Rooney
“Think analytically, rigorously, and systematically about a business problem and come up with a solution that leverages the available data” –  Michael O’Connell, Sr. Director of Analytics, TIBCO
“Data Scientist = statistician + programmer + coach + storyteller + artist”- Shlomo Aragmon
“They are half hacker, half analyst, they use data to build products and find insights” – Monica Rogati
“A data scientist is someone who can obtain, scrub, explore, model and interpret data, blending hacking, statistics and machine learning. Data scientists not only are adept at working with data, but appreciate data itself as a first-class product” – Hillary Mason, Founder at Fast Forward Labs
Now, here is an interesting diagram from Drew Conway that explains what it really means to be a data scientist:
Check out another simple diagram. This is my own depiction of the entire data science process.
So, what does a data scientist do? In simple terms, a data scientist collects data, cleans it, creates data sets, analyzes them and derives new insights. He tries to predict the future with the data in hand and helps businesses improve their quality of products, services and customer engagements. Better quality means happy customers and better revenue.
These are the three most important qualities every data scientist should have:

  1. A good data scientist knows the right questions to ask
  2. Understands the structure of the data he has
  3. Can interpret it well

In a nutshell, data science is all about asking the right questions and drawing meaningful insights that can lead to right decisions.