In recent years, there has been a great buzz around big data and analytics, and the potential of a confluence of computing capabilites as well as intelligent algorithms to deliever massive business efficiencies and insights. Everyone looks to companies like Google and Facebook and says to themselves, "we should be like them!". In Singapore, it seems as if in the past couple of years, every other company is setting up an analytics team and the demand for data scientists, even though it is not clear that every one thinks the same thing when they all say data scientist, has never been higher. In a way, it is reminiscent of the dot-com bubble that drove an over-investment in intercontinental fibre-optic cable. However, as noted by Thomas Friedman in The World is Flat, new platforms, techniques or methods cannot achieve their full potential unless they are combined with new ways of conducting business. For example, the invention of the light bulb was not able to light up households and allow productive activities to carry on at night until efficient electricity generation and delivery was widespread. Likewise, many companies are, in my opinion, grappling with how to embed data science into their core business practices and in many cases they might be grappling in the wrong direction by applying old thinking to new ways.
In this post, I offer some of my thoughts of how data science needs to change in order for businesses to derive actual benefit from it.