A2 Radio: The Rise of Citizen Data Scientists

Students of data science who are entering universities tend to have two things in common. First, they excel at and/or love math. They are mathematicians. Second, they have a passion for fixing a particular problem. Maybe they think younger students could be able to do better in school. Maybe they are looking for a cure for a particular disease. Maybe they see issues with financial reporting that they know they could fix if only they had skills and tools.

Now consider the people who did not pursue a degree in data science. They have other careers. But they still want to be able to use data and analytics to help solve problems. These people are so-called Citizen Data Scientists. It's not a formal job title. These people may have other titles, such as sales representative, marketing director, social media associate, or something else. Data may not even be an official part of their job descriptions.

But they want to use data to make a difference. Maybe they have taken some data or statistics-related courses here or there. Maybe they use their analytics skills in their jobs, and maybe they use them in a hobby or some other way. They are not full-time data scientists. But they are passionate about solving a problem, asking the right questions, and finding answers.  They care and are willing to learn and work.

(Image: HAKINMHAN/Shutterstock)

(Image: HAKINMHAN/Shutterstock)

These individuals can bridge the gap between mainstream self-service analytics by business users and the advanced analytics techniques of data scientists, according to market research firm Gartner.

Citizen data scientists in an enterprise organization can strengthen the commitment to analytics adoption. These individuals possess the domain knowledge so that they know the right questions to ask. And these individuals are already embedded within functional departments of the organization. They are on the front lines, dealing with the every day challenges that analytical insights can help influence and resolve.

On Thursday, Oct. 26, at 1 pm ET, All Analytics Radio will assemble a panel of our expert bloggers to talk about citizen data scientists. We'll discuss who they are and how they can help. Are you a citizen data scientist? Do you want to reach out to potential citizen data scientists inside your organization in order to strengthen your organization's data analytics practice? Then you won't want to miss this show. You can register here at any time.

Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps, Informationweek

Jessica Davis has spent a career covering the intersection of business and technology at titles including IDG's Infoworld, Ziff Davis Enterprise's eWeek and Channel Insider, and Penton Technology's MSPmentor. She's passionate about the practical use of business intelligence, predictive analytics, and big data for smarter business and a better world. In her spare time she enjoys playing Minecraft and other video games with her sons. She's also a student and performer of improvisational comedy. Follow her on Twitter: @jessicadavis.

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Re: Pigeon Holes and The Citizen Data Scientist
  • 11/6/2017 7:32:25 AM

The idea of "ambassadors" is a good one. Allowing those citizen scientists to enter the field and spread the word to many others in language that can more readily be understood can only lead to wider adaption of analytics and further it's progress over time.

Re: Pigeon Holes and The Citizen Data Scientist
  • 10/29/2017 6:21:20 PM

Should be a very interesting discussion. The amateur or citizen data scientists will be effective ambassadors. Demistifying the processes and jargon, making it more receptive and proliferate its incorporation widely.

Re: Pigeon Holes and The Citizen Data Scientist
  • 10/26/2017 9:07:54 AM

I would think that the citizen scientists also want to solve problems maybe more than the datat scientists, and that may well make for a good mix. The non-data folks will pull together the right questions to ask and combine creativitiy and technical folks to get to good solutions.

Re: Pigeon Holes and The Citizen Data Scientist
  • 10/26/2017 12:42:48 AM

There was a time when computers were the exclusive tool of professional computer specialists. Think 1970s. But eventually, every student and every professional got their own PC.

I don't think it will take anywhere near as long for analytics tools to move into the mass-market.

Pigeon Holes and The Citizen Data Scientist
  • 10/25/2017 8:53:53 PM

The Show won't be long enough to cover all the juicy aspects of the Citizen Data Scientist but kudos to A2 for exploring a real solution to the analytical needs of businesses today.

While I am excited about the potential of an earnest leverage of Citizen Data Scientists by business, I am still concerned that far too many companies prefer to practice the "pigeon hole" approach towards their workforce and as a result may never take advantage of the Citizen Data Scientist already in their employ.

I believe I have argued this point in the past but even though companies have become more nimble in the use of their internal resources, there is still a "pigeon hole" approach towards workforce resources.

So I hope those companies that still practice this antiquated approach will tune in and learn something.

It's about Time.