Data Scientist is a profession, not just a job

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fairly difficult
Data Scientist challenges to drive digital transformation
In 2012 a Harvard Business Review article famously proclaimed, "Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century". Nine years later, Data Scientists are still in high demand and top the lists of "best jobs" consistently each year.

However, it is not just a job. Over and the past several years efforts have been underway to elevate Data Scientists as a profession. What is the differentiator? A profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards, have specialized knowledge and skills and apply this to solve problems using data.

About the author Maureen Norton is Global Data Scientist Profession Leader at IBM.

But how much data actually exists? It's a question that we sometimes see raised in the media, as different organizations using different methodologies try to estimate how much data humanity has now produced. PwC, for example, has suggested that the 'accumulated digital universe of data' now amounts to 44ZB, and has grown ten times larger since 2013; while these estimates vary widely, they are always astronomical, and always growing rapidly.

It's hard to conjure an intuitive way of conceptualizing what a number like that actually means. 44 zettabytes is 44 sextillion bytes. Or 44 billion trillion bytes. Or about 4 times as many bytes as there are grains of sand. Or about 44 times as many bytes as there are stars. Or about 4,400 times as many bytes as there are insects.

Understanding the data challenge

Or, perhaps more importantly, 44ZB is one estimate of the outer limit of the scale we face when we choose to use data to solve challenges. Of course, no real-world project will come even close to this kind of magnitude in the data it utilizes, but it's useful to recognize that 'big data' initiatives are always highly selective about what data they actually use.

That accumulated universe of digital data includes information on…
Maureen Norton
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