The role of a “data scientist” used to look completely different from company to company because it was a catch-all title that encompassed multiple skill sets. Now, the field has gone more granular, where novel, hybrid data roles are emerging such as marketing ops, biz-ops, and more.
Deep thinking about the domain a data analyst is working in is a core skill data analysts must continually cultivate. They must understand the causal relationships underlying their datasets and be able to identify how data might be used correctly and incorrectly to infer them.
For early-stage startups, nothing will replace the need for data analysts to deeply understand their customers, which is best done by observing them, talking with them, and sitting down with them.
Being able to make inferences with small data sets is a critical skill. It's a little confusing because, typically, you can't make inferences with small data. If you only see one or two observations, you can't make a valid statistical inference, but when you deeply about mechanisms–how you would set the data up to actually learn the answers in a space where you're pretty constrained by the database–what you find is that even when your data size is infinite, you always want to cut it into a smaller cohort to make a more precise inference and you always run out of data without fail.
When it comes to data skills and roles today, there is a much greater granularity than in the past. However, with specific expertise distinguished by different titles, a lot of the core skillset stay the same. What makes for a great data analyst or scientist also makes for a great marketing ops analyst, and while they may do different things on a day-in, day-out basis, the core is still about data thinking and data capabilities, rather than specific technical expertise.
About Peter Fishman
Dr. Peter Fishman is a Co-Founder & serves as Chief Executive Officer at Mozart Data. He served as the Vice President of Growth & Analytics at Zenefits. Previously, he was Director of Analytics at Yammer and Principal Data Science Manager of Microsoft Office Analytics. Prior to joining Yammer, he worked at Playdom/Disney and as a statistician for the Philadelphia Eagles. He holds a B.S. from Duke University and a Ph.D. in economics from UC Berkeley.
Adel is a Data Science educator, speaker, and Evangelist at DataCamp where he has released various courses and live training on data analysis, machine learning, and data engineering. He is passionate about spreading data skills and data literacy throughout organizations and the intersection of technology and society. He has an MSc in Data Science and Business Analytics. In his free time, you can find him hanging out with his cat Louis.