A Tale of Two Disciplines: Data Scientist and Business Analyst

data scientist and BA

The ability to use data to achieve enterprise goals requires advanced skills that many organizations don’t yet have. But they are looking to add them – and fast. The question is, what type of big data expert is needed? Does an organization need a data scientist or does it need a business analyst? Maybe it even needs both. These two titles are often used interchangeably, and confusion abounds.

Business analysts typically have educational backgrounds in business and humanities. They find and extract valuable information from a variety of sources to evaluate past, present, and future business performance – and then determine which analytical models and approaches will help explain solutions to the end users who need them.

With educational backgrounds in computer science, mathematics, and technology, data scientists are digital builders. They use statistical programming to actually construct the framework for gathering and using the data by creating and implementing algorithms to do it. Such algorithms help businesses with decision making, data management, and the creation of data visualizations to help explain the data that they gather.

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Merchants scramble as shipper goes bankrupt

Major retailers are scrambling to work out contingency plans to get their merchandise to stores as the bankruptcy of the Hanjin shipping line has thrown the retail supply chains around the world into confusion.

Hanjin, the world’s seventh-largest container shipper, filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday and stopped accepting cargo. With its assets frozen, ships from China to Canada were refused permission to load or unload containers because there were no guarantees that tugboat pilots or stevedores would be paid. It’s also been a factor in shipping rates rising and could hurt trucking firms with contracts to pick up goods.

While some retailers’ holiday merchandise has probably been affected, experts say what’s most important is that the issue be resolved before the critical shipping month of October.

Degree of uncertainty

“Retailers always have robust contingency plans, but this degree of uncertainty is making it challenging to put those plans in place,” said Jessica Dankert, senior director of retail operations for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, a trade alliance with members including Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target.

Plano-based J.C. Penney said Hanjin is one of several ocean freight carriers it uses and when it learned there might be a problem it began to divert and reroute its containers. It said it uses “a variety of transportation methods and ports” and does not expect a significant effect on the flow of merchandise.

Target Corp. said it is watching the situation closely, and Wal-Mart said it is waiting for details about Hanjin’s bankruptcy proceedings and the implications to its merchandise before it can assess the effect.

As of Friday, 27 ships had been refused entry to ports or terminals, said Hanjin spokesman Park Min. The company said one ship in Singapore had been seized by the ship’s owner.

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Instagram and Pinterest are killing Gap, Abercrombie, & J. Crew

Traditional mall retailers like Gap, J. Crew, and Abercrombie & Fitch have faced declining sales in recent years.

And the problem might be signaling something even more troublesome than dowdy apparel. Instead, it is a total shift in how teen consumers think.

Young people want to purchase experiences rather than actual stuff, and when they do buy clothing or shoes they want to be able to showcase purchases on social media.

“Their entire life, if it’s not shareable, it didn’t happen,” Marcie Merriman, Generation Z expert and executive director of growth strategy and retail innovation at Ernst & Young, said to Business of Fashion. “Experiences define them much more than the products that they buy.”

The only apparel young people want is clothing that can translate into an experience on Instagram or Snapchat.

Given their limited budgets and frugal tendencies, they’re more likely to purchase lots of clothes at fast fashion retailers, like cutting-edge Zara or cheap Forever 21, so that they have ample images to share.

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