By 2020, the digital universe may be virtually as big as the physical one, swelling to an unfathomably large size (40 zettabytes, to be exact).
Everything from social media, to financial records, emails and everyday transactions generate data. Considering how much data is produced per second everywhere across the globe, it’s easy to see how the digital world is increasing exponentially in size every single minute of every single day. Experts predict the internet to grow 50-fold from 2010 to 2020 – as if it wasn’t big enough already.
What can we do with all this data?
As the mass of online data spirals out of control, the importance of professionals who can translate all that information into meaningful knowledge becomes more and more evident. There’s more than enough data available – now all that’s left is to analyse it and harness its power for real, constructive purposes.
That task is much easier said than done, however, as accurate data analysis requires rigorous training and a thorough understanding of the internet’s complexities - hence why so-called data scientists, experts in the information technology world, are in such high-demand.
The importance of data scientists
American technology giant The International Business Machines Corporation, commonly known as IBM, defines data scientists as “part analyst, part artist”. IBM’s vice president of big data products, Anjul Bhambhri, said: “A data scientist is somebody who is inquisitive, who can stare at data and spot trends. It’s almost like a Renaissance individual who really wants to learn and bring change to an organisation.”
Data scientists go above and beyond the traditional role of data analysts by identifying and predicting trends, approaching data from various angles and looking for new, innovative ways to capitalise on it. Using their creativity and curiosity as well as impeccable technical coding skills, data scientists will harness the power of our online universe in a way we never thought possible – or at least, that’s the hope.
In a recent blog published by the Telegraph online, Olaf Swantee, chief executive officer of Everything Everywhere, likened the future of data scientists to “software developers of the dot-com boom and the Wall Street maths wizards of the 80s”.
And yet, these in-demand experts are hard to find, as skills gaps in relevant subjects are widely prevalent throughout the UK. To keep pace with the blossoming industry of big data, the Royal Academy of Engineering estimates 1.25 million graduates in technology, science, engineering and maths are needed.
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