Data Scientist: Who he is and what he does

We've all heard a bit about it now: the Data Scientist, for a few years now, is one of the most sought-after pre-treatment figures. Who exactly is he and what exactly does he do? Here are some answers we can find on the web:

What does the Data Scientist do?

A bit statistical, a bit itist, a bit of an economist, but also a marketing expert and a communication enthusiast. He is the data scientist, the job that the Harvard Business Review defined as the "sexiest profession of the 21st century" in 2013. Is he a required professional figure in Italy? And how do you become a data scientist?

According to Claudio Sartori, Scientific Director of the New Master in Data Science of Bologna Business School in an interview reported on sarce.it it is a figure that "requires multidisciplinary skills, because it must not only select, analyze and interpret an ever-widening and complex body of data, but also find the best way to make the processing and results available to the structure for which it works, whether it is a company or a public administration."

The data scientist must first put order in the data, then wonder where his organization wants to go, what information can be useful for his strategy. Finally, it must know how to do but also know how to communicate, make available to management the results of what it has done. The most sophisticated analyses are only useful if they are properly transmitted to those who have to make the decisions, then understood and used to achieve the desired results." []

In short, the primary task of a data scientist is to explore the data, starting with precise business demands. He is a real investigator and puts all his analytical creativity on the field. Armed with technological tools and machine learning algorithms, he is able to scientifically examine and predict correlations between phenomena that at first analysis are invisible. Its goal is to get insights as accurate as they can give the business an accurate overview of the problem to be solved.

Who is the Data Scientist?

An attempt was made to profile the Data Scientist in the Italian company, the results were reported in the report "The new professionalism and skills for the management of big data", prepared by the Digital Innovation Observers of the Polytechnic University of Milan:

Work within the IT division, an ad hoc business function, or within one of the pre-existing functions. He is a graduate, mostly master's degree, who has often taken training courses in statistics and computer science. He has a background of skills focused primarily on machine learning, analytics and Knowledge Deployment. And he earns on average about 67,000 euros a year, with a bonus that generally stands at 10% of the salary.

It is clear that a strong heterogeneity of skills is essential, from business to programming to technology and especially for the trio of Machine Learning, Analytics and Knowledge Deployment. From a training point of view, it boasts a course of study concluded in the majority of cases (50%) with a master's degree (engineers, economics and computer science go for the most) and accompanied by specialization courses (statistics, computer science and management the most chosen).

The Data Scientist in Italy

Data Scientist is now present in 3 out of 10 companies, but the number of specialists employed full-time is growing at an annual rate of 57%. A sign of a growing corporate sensitivity to the new challenges of the big data boom.

According to data from Robert Half's Technology and IT Salary Guide for 2018, a data scientist's average salary can range, depending on experience, between 100,000 and 168 thousand dollars per year.

Who needs a Data Scientist?

Each sector has its own wealth of data to analyze. Businesses need to analyze their data to make decisions about efficiency, inventory, manufacturing errors, customer loyalty, and so on. In the e-commerce sector, recognizing trends to improve the proposal to the customer, in the financial situation the data of transactions are fundamental assets, but also in the Public Administration you can monitor the general satisfaction of citizens. Health, communication and social networking are other areas where the needs are evident.

Il Sole 24 Ore also reports that in Italy less than one in three large Italian companies has noticed the need to have a Data Scientist inside. Among Italian SMEs, only 34% of these are in a budget dedicated to Analytics.


This figure is referred to as a professional able to range between technical, computer, economic and statistical skills. It's a kind of evolution from the Business Intelligence figure to the Data Scientist. Whereas in the first case you tend to collect requests from the business and then return numbers in output, in the second case it is the Data Scientist who "proposes solutions" starting from a mostly generic input of the business. It collects information on its own and analyzes its correlations, creating new algorithms and applying machine learning techniques.





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