The role of the data scientist is gaining importance in the pandemic

The pandemic has driven digitization forward – and the role of the data scientist has also become more relevant. More than half of this professional group (53 percent) think that their work is more important now than before Corona.

This is the result of a recent study by SAS, one of the global providers of solutions for analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). For this purpose, data experts were surveyed worldwide and across industries.

45 percent of the data scientists see an increase in their productivity since the beginning of the pandemic, 36 percent an improvement in cooperation with colleagues from the specialist departments. And more than two-thirds are satisfied with the results of their analytical projects.

Source: SAS

Room for optimization

Despite these improvements, respondents complain about obstacles that still stand in the way of their work. More than a third are dissatisfied with the use of analytics and the model implementation in their company. Overall, the survey identified more than 20 barriers to effective work, with the top being a lack of support from management and finance (46 percent), followed by uncleansed data (43 percent). In addition, 42 percent criticize that employees in the specialist departments do not use the results of the analyzes for their decision-making.

One of the most important topics of digitization is the ethical use of AI. In sharp contrast to this is the fact that many companies do not yet seem to be dealing intensively with this topic. 43 percent of those surveyed stated that their company had not yet checked the analytical processes with regard to whether they promote prejudice and discrimination. Only 26 percent state that these aspects are taken into account when evaluating models.

Source: SAS

The study also uncovered gaps in specific skills among data scientists – especially in programming-intensive jobs. For example, less than a third have the necessary skills for cloud management. This is a special challenge insofar as the importance of cloud services is becoming more and more important. 94 percent have used the cloud to the same extent as before or more since the beginning of the pandemic. In addition, the survey produces statistically significant positive correlations between cloud services and the degree of collaboration (r = .44) or productivity (r = .53). So, in the age of remote working, the cloud seems to come with increased collaboration and increased performance.

ÔÇťAnalytical insights are still too seldom integrated into decision-making processes. Data scientists should have a permanent place at the management conference table,” says Dr. Gerhard Svolba, Data Scientist and Analytic Solution Architect at SAS Austria. “Companies need to realize that investing in a team of data experts whose skills complement each other pays off in the long run – especially with increasingly digital and AI-based business processes.”