Recently, question of value derived by data science is being raised more and more frequently. Even Harward Business Review is on it: click here to read their article.
I wonder if their characterization of “data scientist” being sexiest job in 21 century still stands. Yeah, sexy is always good, but it has to be more than just surface, right? By the way, I am still perplexed of what so sexy about “munging” and “wrangling” of data. Maybe that is what “rocks their boat” over there in Harward, I would think.
Well, it was clear that sooner or later “romance” will be over, and butterflies will be all gone – and we will wake up one morning and ask “Hmm – I wonder where my wallet is, and if anything is left?”. So, what is in the wallet of those who invested in data science and "sexy" data scientists? Any returns on that investment? Yes, no?
Answer to that is yes and no. There are some who are getting the value and many who don't!
And that begs very serious question – what HAVE THEY DONE differently?
And I would bet that difference is more of philosophical nature. Those who are getting the value have answered the question of "Why do I need data science and for what? What is that better state that data science will help me to reach? At what cost? What are the potential returns from data science projects? What is the overall business case for this technology? Can my problems and opportunities be addressed by data science profitably?" Meaning, that at the end data science generated value will outweigh cost of the problem’s added with cost of data science solution. They thought of data science more as “ticket” to get them to desired destination.
And those who did not getting value – did not think it all through. There was never business case, technologists were in driving seat which is self-serving by definition (picture the Dracula in driving seat of blood transfusion van), while business was missing in action. For them – data science was not a mean to achieve a goal, it was rather goal in itself! They just focused on “sexy” part of it and mere glamour. And now awakening is followed by big headache.
It has to be reason why we are doing something, and in business setting – there has to be business reason. Where are we going, what are we trying to achieve and how these new technologies will help us navigate treacherous waters, and what we gonna do when we get there? And if prospective technology adopter can answer these questions affirmatively – they are likely to have technology as helping hand in their journey, otherwise it is just dead weight waiting to sink them.