Bringing sexy back
Move out of the way librarians, data scientist has recently been named the most popular job of 2016 and the “sexiest job of the 21st century.” But — what is a data scientist, what do they do, and is this something you should be getting in on?
Experian’s DataLabs EVP, Eric Haller, has the low down. Leading the industry of this rapidly growing career, Eric can offer invaluable insight into what sets this profession apart, what exactly a data scientists does, and what skills are necessary in order to excel in this profession.
In his own words below, Eric gives us the juicy details:
Going boldly where no man has gone before
For decades, Star Trek illuminated the television screens of homes across America. Spoken at the beginning of each episode and film were these words: “Space: The final frontier; These are the voyages of the Starship, Enterprise; Its 5 year mission; To explore strange new worlds; To seek out new life and new civilizations; To boldly go where no man has gone before.” Today, there is a new group going “boldly where no man has gone before” – data scientists.
In its short life, the data scientist profession has already been named “the sexiest job of the 21st century” by the Harvard Business Review and Glassdoor’s most popular job of 2016. And rightly so. The profession has come out of the woodwork with immense popularity. However, the term still might be foreign to most.
So, what exactly is a data scientist? And what do they do?
Explorers, problem solvers, and wizards
The role of the data scientist emerged as a result of the vast amount of data companies are acquiring. The problem: most of this data is jumbled, indistinct information. How, then, can a company use this for their own benefit? It was obvious there needed to be someone companies could rely on to take this data, build connections and correlations, and assemble insights useful for the growth of the company. The result: the rise of data scientists.
Individuals in this profession are innate explorers. They are always reinventing the wheel; coming up with new approaches to old challenges; finding solutions to vexing problems. And they do so by listening to hard data. Couple this with their analytical background and one can see what makes data scientists so attractive to the business world.
Data scientists are the wizards making seemingly unattainable ideas and goals a possibility for companies – companies who need risk assessments; companies who strive to better optimize their marketing towards key consumers; companies who could use improvements to their digital consumer user experience.
The realm of possibilities is seemingly endless for data science. Take for example these ongoing ventures. Data scientists are helping policy makers and disaster relief specialists on global security issues, like terrorism, and responding to humanitarian crises more effectively. They’re also helping companies optimize online experiences for consumers. And as these examples show, data scientists aren’t just working to grow corporations. They respond to situations in which they can use data for good.
Could you be a sexy wizard?
So, what are the skills necessary to excel in the profession?
Some include the ability to write code, develop algorithms and glean actionable insights.
Perhaps the most important skill necessary to succeed as a data scientist is effective communication and advocacy for a position. Data science is a brainy, technical field. While scientists working in the field understand the complexity of the information they study, it is highly unlikely that their client does.
Data scientists must therefore be able to think and communicate like business people – to bring the conversation down to a level anyone can understand. It is the only way they are able to successfully deliver and implement their findings.
Every day, from every corner of the world, Experian is working to attract this talent and utilize them to help a host of companies, from financial institutions to healthcare organizations, make strategic decisions towards sustainable growth. No matter the project or task, data scientists are constantly examining problems and discovering solutions that are good for businesses, consumers and society.
The need for data scientists will only continue to grow in the future. A report came out a couple years ago that estimated by 2020 the amount of data globally will grow ten-fold from today. That’s a tremendous amount of data. Raw data. Untapped potential. This alone puts the importance of data science as a profession into perspective. Data scientists are the pioneers going “where no man has gone before” for the good of our future.
Big retailers are opting for refunds instead of returns
(BUSINESS NEWS) Due to increased shipping costs, big companies like Amazon and Walmart are opting to give out a refund rather than accepting small items returned.
The holidays are over, and now some people are ready to return an item that didn’t quite work out or wasn’t on their Christmas list. Whatever the reason, some retailers are giving customers a refund and letting them keep the product, too.
When Vancouver, Washington resident, Lorie Anderson, tried returning makeup from Target and batteries from Walmart she had purchased online, the retailers told her she could keep or donate the products. “They were inexpensive, and it wouldn’t make much financial sense to return them by mail,” said Ms. Anderson, 38. “It’s a hassle to pack up the box and drop it at the post office or UPS. This was one less thing I had to worry about.”
Amazon.com Inc., Walmart Inc., and other companies are changing the way they handle returns this year, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The companies are using artificial intelligence (AI) to weigh the costs of processing physical returns versus just issuing a refund and having customers keep the item.
For instance, if it costs more to ship an inexpensive or larger item than it is to refund the purchase price, companies are giving customers a refund and telling them to keep the products also. Due to an increase in online shopping, it makes sense for companies to change how they manage returns.
Locus Robotics chief executive Rick Faulk told the Journal that the biggest expense when it comes to processing returns is shipping costs. “Returning to a store is significantly cheaper because the retailer can save the freight, which can run 15% to 20% of the cost,” Faulk said.
But, returning products to physical stores isn’t something a lot of people are wanting to do. According to the return processing firm Narvar, online returns increased by 70% in 2020. With people still hunkered down because of the pandemic, changing how to handle returns is a good thing for companies to consider to reduce shipping expenses.
While it might be nice to keep the makeup or batteries for free, don’t expect to return that new PS5 and get to keep it for free, too. According to WSJ, a Walmart spokesperson said the company lets someone keep a refunded item only if the company doesn’t plan on reselling it. And, besides taking the economic costs into consideration, the companies look at the customer’s purchase history as well.
Google workers have formed company’s first labor union
(BUSINESS NEWS) A number of Google employees have agreed to commit 1% of their salary to labor union dues to support employee activism and fight workplace discrimination.
On Monday morning, Google workers announced that they have formed a union with the support of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the largest communications and media labor union in the U.S.
The new union, Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) was organized in secret for about a year and formed to support employee activism, and fight discrimination and unfairness in the workplace.
“From fighting the ‘real names’ policy, to opposing Project Maven, to protesting the egregious, multi-million dollar payouts that have been given to executives who’ve committed sexual harassment, we’ve seen first-hand that Alphabet responds when we act collectively. Our new union provides a sustainable structure to ensure that our shared values as Alphabet employees are respected even after the headlines fade,” stated Program Manager Nicki Anselmo in a press release.
AWU is the first union in the company’s history, and it is open to all employees and contractors at any Alphabet company in the United States and Canada. The cost of membership is 1% of an employee’s total compensation, and the money collected will be used to fund the union organization.
In a response to the announcement, Google’s Director of People Operations, Kara Silverstein, said, “We’ve always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our workforce. Of course, our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees.”
Unlike other labor unions, the AWU is considered a “Minority Union”. This means it doesn’t need formal recognition from the National Labor Relations Board. However, it also means Alphabet can’t be forced to meet the union’s demands until a majority of employees support it.
So far, the number of members in the union represents a very small portion of Google’s workforce, but it’s growing every day. When the news of the union was first announced on Monday, roughly 230 employees made up the union. Less than 24 hours later, there were 400 employees in the union, and now that number jumped to over 500 employees.
Unions among Silicon Valley’s tech giants are rare, but labor activism is slowly picking up speed, especially with more workers speaking out and organizing.
“The Alphabet Workers Union will be the structure that ensures Google workers can actively push for real changes at the company, from the kinds of contracts Google accepts to employee classification to wage and compensation issues. All issues relevant to Google as a workplace will be the purview of the union and its members,” stated the AWU in a press release.
Ticketmaster caught red-handed hacking, hit with major fines
(BUSINESS NEWS) Ticketmaster has agreed to pay $10 million to resolve criminal charges after hacking into a competitor’s network specifically to sabotage.
Live Nation’s Ticketmaster agreed to pay $10 million to resolve criminal charges after admitting to hacking into a competitor’s network and scheming to “choke off” the ticket seller company and “cut [victim company] off at the knees”.
Ticketmaster admitted hiring former employee, Stephen Mead, from startup rival CrowdSurge (which merged with Songkick) in 2013. In 2012, Mead signed a separation agreement to keep his previous company’s information confidential. When he joined Live Nation, Mead provided that confidential information to the former head of the Artist Services division, Zeeshan Zaidi, and other Ticketmaster employees. The hacking information shared with the company included usernames, passwords, data analytics, and other insider secrets.
“When employees walk out of one company and into another, it’s illegal for them to take proprietary information with them. Ticketmaster used stolen information to gain an advantage over its competition, and then promoted the employees who broke the law. This investigation is a perfect example of why these laws exist – to protect consumers from being cheated in what should be a fair market place,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.
In January 2014, Mead gave a Ticketmaster executive multiple sets of login information to Toolboxes, the competitor’s password-protected app that provides real-time data about tickets sold through the company. Later, at an Artists Services Summit, Mead logged into a Toolbox and demonstrated the product to Live Nation and Ticketmaster employees. Information collected from the Toolboxes were used to “benchmark” Ticketmaster’s offerings against the competitor.
“Ticketmaster employees repeatedly – and illegally – accessed a competitor’s computers without authorization using stolen passwords to unlawfully collect business intelligence,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DuCharme in a statement. “Further, Ticketmaster’s employees brazenly held a division-wide ‘summit’ at which the stolen passwords were used to access the victim company’s computers, as if that were an appropriate business tactic.”
The hacking violations were first reported in 2017 when CrowdSurge sued Live Nation for antitrust violations. A spokesperson told The Verge, “Ticketmaster terminated both Zaidi and Mead in 2017, after their conduct came to light. Their actions violated our corporate policies and were inconsistent with our values. We are pleased that this matter is now resolved.”
To resolve the case, Ticketmaster will pay a $10 million criminal penalty, create a compliance and ethics program, and report to the United States Attorney’s Office annually during a three-year term. If the agreement is breached, Ticketmaster will be charged with: “One count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, one count of computer intrusion for commercial advantage, one count of computer intrusion in furtherance of fraud, one count of wire fraud conspiracy and one count of wire fraud.”
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