The Future of Data Science: How You and Your Business Can Benefit from Data (Part 2)

By Jennifer Bi

In our last blog post, we spoke with our Chief Data Scientist, Vitaly Gordon, and got help with answering the big questions: “What is data science? Why is data science significant?”

To continue the conversation, we explored how the growing field of data science affects our lives and what your business should know when setting up for success. Because in today’s digital age, we know that data science isn’t only for data scientists.

What are the most exciting applications you see today that utilize data science?

Honestly, I’m a big fan of GPS.

Because at a high level, and maybe this sounds extreme: data science can save lives. Every time you use GPS, it saves you time, it benefits your day to day life. Just the other day I used GPS and it probably saved me half an hour, and that’s time I can spend with my kid, with my family.

Second, I believe that smart products can be considered the reverse of a cigarette. There’s a common saying that goes — every cigarette you smoke takes time off your life. With smart products, you get the opposite effect. Every time you use an intelligence device, you get time back into your life.

How do small businesses set themselves up for success with data science?

It’s a fairly complex field. When you look at our company, we hire a lot of PhDs, so there’s a question of: why do we hire them? And it’s not because those people are easy to hire — it’s quite the opposite, they’re the hardest to hire.

The goal is to hire with retention in mind, which actually makes my job as a manager quite difficult. Because it’s not a direct job position where you find a feature you need to build out and you hire a person to fill that role. This is what makes it difficult.

I get questions about this issue from business leaders often: How do we finding and retaining data science talent?

The answer I give them is an analogy: If you are buying a car, would you think to build it yourself?

Most businesses are experts at what they do, so this is where you can outsource other functions to software that can help you do it. Take for example SalesforceIQ, our business is about managing your sales process and all the CRM data involved in an automatic and intelligent way, so it’s an easy solution small businesses and sales reps can outsource that to our products.

What are the top things CIOs should consider when thinking about their data?

I’ve spoken to CIOs about this, but a common tendency I see, is CIOs spending budget on acquiring the right tools. But, as my mother would say, “You can’t buy a set of pans and expect to become a better cook.”

It’s not just about the tools, it’s about something else. Instead, a CIO can ask him or herself: What does my business look like? What is my main metric?

Then you can figure out how to move the needle on your main metric and how a data scientist can help you get there. Don’t solve things on a large scale yet.

Tackle a small problem first, because companies can’t become a data company from Day 1.

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