Data Science for All: When, Not If?


Looking back over the decades, it's clear that the PC created a monster, and the smart phone gave the beast its bad attitude.

Credit: Pixabay
Credit: Pixabay

The monster is the business worker as technology owner, and the attitude dictates that they expect full access to new technologies, to data, and to the world. Prior to the PC, data was what we saw on sheets of paper or what we found in research volumes like business directories, atlases, or phone books. You do remember books, right?

Yes, there was data stashed on computers prior to the PC, but it was the technologist, not the business person who determined who got access to that precious data, how, and when. Woe be to those who dared pass through those glass doors to the MIS department.

We know that the PC changed all that, steamrolling the technologists at the gate. We had our own data at our fingertips. Of course, the Internet and the smart phone extended that reach, far beyond our desktops to the world whenever we wanted it.

Now we face the question of whether to give business users -- let's get crazy and say consumers too -- access to the analytics tools that have been nurtured by database professionals, analysts, and data scientists. We're starting to hear about users who won't be satisfied with dashboards or limited query capabilities on carefully selected data sources.

Consider the emergence of the citizen data scientist, where one writer said, "Employees in multiple parts of an organization are empowered with the analytics tools and skills to get the answers they need from their data." Today you might be hearing about companies -- Sears in the above case -- giving more powerful tools to selected individuals in a handful of departments, setting them free to do their own data science.

I wonder how how soon the commoners in the cubicle farm all will be demanding their own data science tools to answer their own business questions.

The topic of citizen data science has been floated here on All Analytics a few times. In each case the response from the analytics pros tends to be, "Not here. They need us. The company needs us. They can't be trusted doing what we do. It's our data."

Sorry, but the time is approaching when the business user doesn't ask for access to their own analytics but demands that access. The saying, it's not a matter of "if" but "when" certainly applies.

So, I think the better question for the All Analytics community is "how" you enable citizen science. Do you do what MIS/IT did back in the early PC days and say, "No, no, never"? The risk there is that departments will circumvent you and your barricades.

How can you and your organization prepare to answer the demands for more common access to analytics? I suspect that smart organizations are already planning for it by re-evaluating data policies and access rights. They might be looking at analytics tools that are designed for use by common folk under the guidance of data science pros.

Could that change the role of the data scientist and analyst, rather than eliminate them? Does it make sense that those organizations might look at the analytics professional not as a gatekeeper but as an enabler, even an innovator?

Do you see your organization moving toward citizen data science.

James M. Connolly, Editor of All Analytics

Jim Connolly is a versatile and experienced technology journalist who has reported on IT trends for more than two decades. As editor of All Analytics he writes about the move to big data analytics and data-driven decision making. Over the years he has covered enterprise computing, the PC revolution, client/server, the evolution of the Internet, the rise of web-based business, and IT management. He has covered breaking industry news and has led teams focused on product reviews and technology trends. Throughout his tech journalism career, he has concentrated on serving the information needs of IT decision-makers in large organizations and has worked with those managers to help them learn from their peers and share their experiences in implementing leading-edge technologies through publications including Computerworld. Jim also has helped to launch a technology-focused startup, as one of the founding editors at TechTarget, and has served as editor of an established news organization focused on technology startups and the Boston-area venture capital sector at MassHighTech. A former crime reporter for the Boston Herald, he majored in journalism at Northeastern University.

Finding Just the Facts in Government Data

The problem is that too often business people only want the data that makes their point. That's the "good data." Others who disagree with them have "bad data."

A2 Radio: The Evolving Role of Data Scientist

The role of the data scientist is changing before our eyes, both in the necessary skillsets and positioning within the company. A2 Radio looks at how the data science role is evolving.


Hegemony of the Technocrati
  • 4/24/2016 12:17:51 AM
NO RATINGS

..

Jim writes


Sorry, but the time is approaching when the business user doesn't ask for access to their own analytics but demands that access. The saying, it's not a matter of "if" but "when" certainly applies.

So, I think the better question for the All Analytics community is "how" you enable citizen science. Do you do what MIS/IT did back in the early PC days and say, "No, no, never"? The risk there is that departments will circumvent you and your barricades.


 

I think the Technocrati will always try to stay at least one step ahead of the ordinary citizens. If ordinary citizens do gain the power and savvy to attain access to big data and perform their own analytics, the Technocrati will make all this moot by replacing the citizens with robots. They're already working on it...

 

 

Re: The delusion of mass science
  • 4/15/2016 12:13:11 PM
NO RATINGS

The emphasis in my comments is on SCIENCE and not on FOR ALL.

Anybody can "look at" or "play with" data. But very few and steeply decreasingly so can do science or even know what that means.

Re: The delusion of mass science
  • 4/15/2016 11:49:17 AM
NO RATINGS

I suspect that the idea of data science for all might be a reach, even though I agree that data should be available to all. There's probably still going to be a certain personality type that is not only eager to look at data, but to make intelligent use of it. Call them "geeks" or inquisitive personalities, there's something unique about the brain that loves numbers, questions, getting to answers, and discovery.

Re: Oh, helps us Lord
  • 4/13/2016 4:20:48 PM
NO RATINGS

Exactly: There is no relationship.

Re: Oh, helps us Lord
  • 4/13/2016 3:32:12 PM
NO RATINGS

Explaining how "ownership" will induce scientific knowledge is a difficult explanation to make.

It may require more 'suspension of disbelief' than you or I can muster.

The delusion of mass science
  • 4/13/2016 3:22:30 PM
NO RATINGS

In the context of people increasingly unwilling and unable to learn and think and delude themselves that machines will do it for them, the notion that they will be able to even interpret results, let alone do the analysis correctly is absurd.

Re: Oh, helps us Lord
  • 4/13/2016 3:18:48 PM
NO RATINGS

Can you explain how "ownership" induces science knowledge and comptence?

Re: Oh, helps us Lord
  • 4/13/2016 1:25:53 PM
NO RATINGS

@debunker

Just think how much more ownership the business will have for the result, if they have a big role in coming up with it. With more ownership, they will be more likely to carry out the recommendations.

Now, does it matter that the popular prescription is also wrong? That you and I would prefer a conclusion that, while it may not be as popular, was actually correct?

No, this doesn't matter. After the project completion, if it should fail; the leaders can still blame us and everything will carry on as before.

Re: Oh, helps us Lord
  • 4/13/2016 12:41:42 PM
NO RATINGS

Science is not about democracy, but about knowledge and competence.

There is ample evidence that both are going down the drain, so that today even academics and the so-called "data scientists" are clueless about science. Let the machines--built by the greedy for exploitation--do the thinking an learning.

And in this context we're talking about "science by the masses"? PLEASE! It's just propaganda to give those masses the illusion of democracy and to obscure the what is really being done to them.

 

Re: Oh, helps us Lord
  • 4/13/2016 12:12:28 PM
NO RATINGS

May I dare say, evolutionary progression of data. It's good and healthy, should be encouraged not suppressed.

Page 1 / 2   >   >>
INFORMATION RESOURCES
ANALYTICS IN ACTION
CARTERTOONS
VIEW ALL +
QUICK POLL
VIEW ALL +