In medieval times, a Unicorn was a rare and mythical creature with great powers. In today’s world, a similar mythical creature is a Data Science Unicorn, who knows equally well the technology, data science, and business. Such professional is a most valuable resource of any data science team. Many data professionals are experts in the first two areas – technology and data science, but lack business/domain skills.
Data science projects are not just about ETL and building models but rather about understanding business and its strategic problems, asking the right questions, and using technology along with data science to solve those problems. Failure in clearly understanding the business and its problems can doom data science/analytics projects and ultimately whole business strategy. Typical analytics teams consist of business/data analysts (who know business, define business problems, and interpret the data science results from business point of view), data scientists (who are data science experts) and data engineers (who are technology experts, developers, testers and administrators).
Though these 3 types of experts are on the same team, there might be a gap in correctly understanding the problem or interpreting the results after integrating their expertise. So, a champion is the one who knows all 3 areas and helps the team to better understand business and its problems, to find innovative solutions and interpret results in correct way to add value to the business. This blog gives an overview of the business side of data science, especially for technology and data science professionals who want to advance their analytics career and become a “Unicorn”.
To understand today’s data/analytics driven business, below concepts are very important:
- Strategic planning
- Enterprise performance management (EPM)
- Business intelligence and analytics
- Key performance indicators
- Management reporting
- Strategic decision making
1. Strategic planning is an organization’s process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy. It may also extend to control mechanisms for guiding the implementation of the strategy.”– Wikipedia
- What Is the Strategic Planning Process Model
- What IS Strategic Planning
- Leadership Strategies – Introduction to Strategic Planning (Whiteboard video)
2. “Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) is a type of business planning that relates to business intelligence (BI), which involves evaluating and managing performance for an enterprise to reach performance goals, enhance efficiency or maximize business processes.” – Technopedia.
- What is Performance Management?
- Strategic Performance Management
- What is Enterprise Performance Management (EPM)?
3. “Business Intelligence (BI) are the set of strategies, processes, applications, data, products, technologies and technical architectures which are used to support the collection, analysis, presentation and dissemination of business information.”– Wikipedia
- What is Business Intelligence (BI)?
- What is Business Intelligence (BI)
- Business Intelligence Tutorial
- What is Business Intelligence?
4. “Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) help us to measure how well companies, business units, projects or individuals are performing compared to their strategic goals and objectives. Well-designed KPIs provide the vital navigation instruments that give us a clear understanding of current levels of performance.” – www.ap-institute.com
- Key Performance Indicators
- What are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?
- Introduction to Key Performance Indicators
5. Management information reporting, is “a communication method that lets business managers convey ideas and concepts to an audience, understand market trends and ensure an efficient business operation.” – reference.com
As management reporting helps business executives to make informed decisions, it becomes very important to effectively and visually present the organizational information. In today’s IT enabled enterprises, BI dashboards and reporting tools are very popular way for management reporting. Examples of Business Management Reports
6. “Strategic decisions are long term, complex decisions made by senior management. These decisions will affect the entire direction of the firm. An example may be to become the market leader in their field.
Tactical decisions are medium term, less complex decisions made by middle managers. They follow on from strategic decisions and aim to meet the objectives stated in any strategic decision. For example, in order to become the market leader, a firm may have to launch new products/services or open new branches.
Operational decisions are day to day decisions made by junior managers that are simple and routine. This could involve the regular ordering of supplies or the creation of a staff role” – bbc.co.uk
Find out more about Decision-making in business
- Strategic Decision Making
Below is the list of videos by Bernard Marr – a famous author, speaker and consultant in big data, analytics and enterprise performance, explaining more details about business, big data and analytics:
- The Intelligent Company (Bernard Marr)
- Better Decisions through EPM, BI and Analytics
- Building Intelligent PM Systems
- Future Value Drivers – Leveraging your intangible assets using a five step process
Understanding business side completely takes years or even decade; what is important for a Unicorn is, to know the basics of business areas and integrate that knowledge with technology and data science skills to understand and solve the real world business problems. There are many online courses on specific areas of business analytics e.g.
- Marketing Analytics
- Supply Chain Analytics
- Analytics for Decision Making
- Marketing Analytics: Products, Distribution and Sales
Best suggestion is to choose your business area of interest or current data science project business area and start your journey to become a Unicorn of Data Science world. Good luck.
- The Data Science Delusion
- Data Science Skills and Business Problems
- Interview: Kenneth Viciana, Equifax on Data Lake & Other Strategies for Insights Culture