Should you learn Data Science if you work as a Software Engineer?
Data Science skills are among the most sought after in the modern tech industry. Successful business collect and analyse large amounts of data to effectively make decisions, innovate and create an excellent service for their customers.
This article is the first in the Road to Data Science series and fittingly introduces the benefits of learning Data Science from a Software Engineer's perspective. While the points I make in this article reflect my expectations and reasons for learning, I hope it will motivate you to explore this marvellous field.
A New Perspective
At the beginning of my learning journey, I had no clear idea of what Data Science was. Fortunately, Denise Sengül's brief introduction clarified some of my initial assumptions, captivated my interest and sparked my curiosity about the intricate world of Data Science.
I encourage you to watch the first 20 minutes of What the Tech... is a Data Scientist?. In this video, Denise reveals how "Data Science is about finding patterns in data for a specific purpose".
Rather than seeing Data Science as a completely different discipline, think of it as part of the problem-solving process. This new perspective of Data Science means that learning data analysis techniques and shifting your mindset to think like a Data Scientist becomes a valuable tool for solving problems.
I firmly believe that learning, seeking to improve and constantly building new skills are healthy habits of a successful Software Engineer. Having Data Science skills can broaden your perspective and improve decision-making.
Data Scientists who are also Software Engineers are somewhat rare and have a combination of IT, statistics, and communication skills. Having a broad set of skills can advance your career and give you many opportunities in the future.
The diagram below is taken from Denise Sengül's presentation and illustrates the variety of job titles related to Data Scientist based on the skillset required on the job. Artificial Intelligence Engineer and Machine Learning Engineer use IT skills and statistics. Having IT skills, communication and domain expertise in a business are suitable for Data Engineer and Data Warehouse Architect positions. Finally, Data Analysts and Business Intelligence Analysts know statistics, have domain expertise and strong communication skills.
Build Smart Software
Investing time in learning about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) techniques can empower you to build the innovative, smart products of the future.
Software products are expected to become increasingly smarter by anticipating user's needs and making predictions. For example, mainstream content streaming applications like Netflix, Youtube and Spotify collect and analyse user's data to recommend personalised content, thus, creating a better user experience.
By learning how to integrate features such as image processing, natural language processing, computer vision, and many more into modern products, you can create powerful applications. Examples range across industries from self-driving cars, legal analysis, fraud prevention to assistant software that can help doctors perform diagnosis faster.
Many of these applications are empowered by cloud computing services like Google Cloud, AWS and Microsoft Azure. Thus, by learning the basics of AI and ML, you can get started with some of these services that simplify the integration of AI-based features and build the intelligent software products of tomorrow.
Engineer Big Data
The ability to engineer and analyse large amounts of ever-increasing quantities of data is essential in today's organisations. The Big Data field emerged when NASA scientists had to solve the challenge of collecting, processing and storing an unimaginably large amount of data from space missions, Earth observatory, etc.
While not everyone works at NASA, having the skills to manage large datasets, make data visualisations and finding patterns help organisations gain insight and make informed decisions to grow their business.
Learning Data Science
- helps you solve business problems by using insights from data
- gives you a wider range of career opportunities
- empowers you to build AI-based software
- enables you to work with Big Data