Data Science – Growth, Opportunities and the Future
I actually have always been interested in learning how to code. I have built applications and managed many technology projects but realized that I was always very reliant on a programmer at times. Hence I have taken steps to learn to code, I understand the basics of HTML, CSS, R, Python and SQL (which I have had to build queries quite often) but I personally really want to learn this further mostly on the R and Python side. New programming languages keep popping up and it seems like for me it has been a while since I truly looked to understand programming again. Again I do not strive to be an expert or specialist but I do like to understand enough to be able to analyze data which is becoming more common. The truth is I need to upskill and re-skill as this area has been disrupted and data is now the most valuable commodity in the market. Often when disruption starts and items start to move it is difficult to catch-up as the curve often seems pretty steep.
Recently I saw a twitter comment after the Alberta election supporting a change to the curriculum summarizing that math needs to go back to traditional methods- it had thousands of likes and criticized algebra or calculus being thought at any level as well as computer science. I realized the irony now as this individual was using the exact tools he was criticizing without realizing what he was doing. Often programming and much to do with data science, AI and Machine Learning (ML) are misunderstood as it is not magic that can do what anybody wants. Current technologies are starting to help decision making and assist in speed with calculations like Monte Carlo simulations. Many analysis level occupations in finance, project management, marketing and other areas will end up leveraging data science as often these individuals assist in making data-driven decisions. The skillset of only approximately one-third of a percentage of people (estimated) in the world know how to code in some language means there is a large gap in demand for this skill and supply. You see tremendous growth in post-secondary and open learning resources to help fill the gap but it seems like the demand is higher than supply currently. That is why it is my opinion not even having a formal background in coding I believe my kids will be able to code and this coding will be as common as reading later in their lifetime. We are seeing more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Schools and from the twitter comment mentioned previously- I think if schooling will want to keep pace with technology there will need to be a pretty fundamental shift to fill demands of the market earlier. I was surprised to see the vocational programs that are now offered in high school in Edmonton and in my opinion the STEM schools and data science programs might be next. Unstructured data is now being leveraged more than it has in the past and items and qualitative data with metadata are now being organized and leveraged but this is in its infancy.
Data science is all the rage and I understand AI, ML and data science are not magic but in reality long term data-driven decision making will be driven by these as data becomes more and more valuable. As a society we are becoming more driven by convenience and in reality technology has been driving our lifestyle changes for a while which includes, smartphones, computers have gone from large items on desks to the tablet I am typing on now, voice-activated technologies are continuing to grow and social media was not heard of just a little bit ago. Technology now moves exponentially and this hyper-speed makes it difficult to keep up with what is next. In saying all of this to me what is clear is coding has moved along fairly slowly but I feel this might be the next disruption to many occupations including much of my experience in the past.
I have procrastinated to complete at least 100 days of code for almost 100 days now and I am starting this week. Spending an hour each day for 100 days will probably mean less sleep. This is a challenge as I realize that in reality to accomplish what I want to in this area it will take a lot more than an hour a day. I see myself spending a minimum of 500-700 hours in learning here through free websites starting with Freecodecamp, Udemy and other online resources. My goal is to brush up on my web-design but further, I want to review my SQL knowledge but also join it with Python to understand data structure, queries, analyze and visualize data better to make better data-driven decisions. With a 10 month old and 4 year old at home this might get quite difficult as I have figured out in working on my MBA that things can slip very quickly and therefore I am now using a time-tracking software (TimeCamp) to truly make sure I am putting a minimum of 10 hours a week into brushing up on programming languages or learning data science and visualization. Wish me luck as I need to also put in an hour a day starting next week into my MBA as well, sleep is important but sometimes a little less sleep is all you can do to gain new skills.
There are a lot of free resources to expand your skillset in these areas there are many more than the below (but these are the ones I plan to leverage mostly for R and Python are below)
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Fahim Moledina is the Principal Consultant for Opti-Syn Consulting and is a business leader with expertise in project/change management, finance, lean/agile methods, as well as marketing and sales.
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