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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Automating Big-Data Analysis and Replacing Human Intuition with Algorithms

Big-data analysis consists of searching for buried patterns that have some kind of predictive power.

But choosing which “features” of the data to analyze usually requires some human intuition.

In a database containing, say, the beginning and end dates of various sales promotions and weekly profits, the crucial data may not be the dates themselves but the spans between them, or not the total profits but the averages across those spans.

MIT researchers aim to take the human element out of big-data analysis, with a new system that not only searches for patterns but designs the feature set, too.

To test the first prototype of their system, they enrolled it in three data science competitions, in which it competed against human teams to find predictive patterns in unfamiliar data sets.

Of the 906 teams participating in the three competitions, the researchers’ “Data Science Machine” finished ahead of 615.

In two of the three competitions, the predictions made by the Data Science Machine were 94 percent and 96 percent as accurate as the winning submissions.

In the third, the figure was a more modest 87 percent. But where the teams of humans typically labored over their prediction algorithms for months, the Data Science Machine took somewhere between two and 12 hours to produce each of its entries.

“We view the Data Science Machine as a natural complement to human intelligence,” says James Max Kanter, whose MIT master’s thesis in computer science is the basis of the Data Science Machine.

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One step ahead: How data science and supply chain management are driving the predictive enterprise

DHL, the world’s leading logistics company, today launched its latest white paper highlighting the untapped power of data-driven insight for the supply chain. The white paper has revealed that most companies are sitting upon a goldmine of untapped supply chain data that has the ability to give organizations a competitive edge. While this wealth of supply chain data already runs the day-to-day flow of goods around the world, the white paper has revealed a small group of trailblazing companies are utilizing this data as a predictive tool for accurate forecasting.

“The predictive enterprise: Where data science meets supply chain” is a white paper by Lisa Harrington, President of the lharrington group LLC that was commissioned by DHL to identify the opportunities available to companies to anticipate and even predict the future. It encourages companies to get ahead of their business and direct their global operations accordingly.

Data mining, pattern recognition, business analytics, business intelligence and other tools are coalescing into an emerging field of supply chain data science. These new intelligent analytic capabilities are changing supply chains – from reactive operations, to proactive and ultimately predictive operating models. The implications extend far beyond just reinventing the supply chain. They will help map the blueprint for the next-generation global company – the insight-driven enterprise.

Jesse Laver, Vice President, Global Sector Development, Technology, DHL Supply Chain, said, “At DHL, we’re helping our customers get ahead of the competition by working with them to harness the wealth of data information from across their businesses, allowing us to develop smarter supply chain solutions that factor in their wider business operations. For our technology customers, we use data analytics to predict what’s going on in the supply chain, such as what products are in high demand, so we can tailor our solutions accordingly.”

While supply chain analytics technologies and tools have come a long way in the last few years, integrating them into the enterprise is still far from easy. Companies typically progress through several stages of maturity as they adopt these technologies. The descriptive supply chain stage uses information and analytics systems to capture and present data in a way that helps managers understand what is happening.

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How data science and supply chain management are driving the predictive enterprise

DHL, the world’s leading logistics company, today launched its latest white paper highlighting the untapped power of data-driven insight for the supply chain. The white paper has revealed that most companies are sitting upon a goldmine of untapped supply chain data that has the ability to give organizations a competitive edge. While this wealth of supply chain data already runs the day-to-day flow of goods around the world, the white paper has revealed a small group of trailblazing companies are utilizing this data as a predictive tool for accurate forecasting.

“The predictive enterprise: Where data science meets supply chain” is a white paper by Lisa Harrington, President of the lharrington group LLC that was commissioned by DHL to identify the opportunities available to companies to anticipate and even predict the future. It encourages companies to get ahead of their business and direct their global operations accordingly.

Data mining, pattern recognition, business analytics, business intelligence and other tools are coalescing into an emerging field of supply chain data science. These new intelligent analytic capabilities are changing supply chains – from reactive operations, to proactive and ultimately predictive operating models. The implications extend far beyond just reinventing the supply chain. They will help map the blueprint for the next-generation global company – the insight-driven enterprise.

Jesse Laver, Vice President, Global Sector Development, Technology, DHL Supply Chain, said, “At DHL, we’re helping our customers get ahead of the competition by working with them to harness the wealth of data information from across their businesses, allowing us to develop smarter supply chain solutions that factor in their wider business operations. For our technology customers, we use data analytics to predict what’s going on in the supply chain, such as what products are in high demand, so we can tailor our solutions accordingly.”

Read more at One step ahead: How data science and supply chain management are driving the predictive enterprise

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Preventing a talent gap in supply chain management

When you hear about skills shortages and talent gaps, the discussion tends to surround STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — professions. However, a new concern also is breaking through.

Supply chain management has become a far more complex and skill-demanding ordeal for businesses in a wealth of industries operating in virtually every location around the globe. This has been driven by the fact that commodities markets, global trade and regional economic conditions have been volatile at best, and show no signs of simplifying or stabilizing anytime soon, meaning that managers of the supply chain have a lot more variables to worry about today than in the past.

Thankfully, it appears as though many businesses, including those operating within the manufacturing sector, are working to nip this problem in the bud by providing their own types of training for supply chain managers to digest. After all, the greatest weapon in the fight against any talent gap is increased investment from the private sector in training and development, and this medicine appears to be more commonly embraced in the modern era.

Automotive excellence
Manufacturing Business Technology magazine recently reported that a new study from DHL revealed automotive giants are likely to face what it calls a “perfect storm” that will wreak havoc on supply chains from around the globe. According to the study, supply chain management professionals, specifically those looking to get a job at an automotive manufacturing firm, already are few and far between, and this problem is expected to become more complex in the near future.

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How do you deal with the talent gap in supply chain management? Share your thoughts with us in the comment box.

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