Jobs in data science have repeatedly topped the charts for being the most in-demand roles with fat pay cheques. But can people from non-tech backgrounds make a foray into this exciting field? Are there roles where professionals with a non-STEM background break into?
The answer is ‘yes’. However, a certain degree of proficiency and analytical bent of mind is required to make a successful career in the data science field. For example — top consulting majors such as Deloitte, KPMG, Nielsen, PwC, Booz Allen, BCG and Accenture, among others, have built robust data analytics practices. While they have a dedicated group of data scientists, researchers and programmers to build data-driven solutions for clients, they also have an active client facing set of consultants who understand the big data domain and act as an interface between the clients and the in-house analytics team. However, presales consultants need a robust understanding of domain and big data to a certain extent to make themselves invaluable. In a similar vein, most professionals from the BFSI sector who regularly dabble in financial modelling and forecasts have already ditched Excel spreadsheets for R, thereby boosting their skillset and adding significant value to their clients.
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Here Are A Few Roles From The Data Science Field Which Professionals From Different Domains Can Break Into:
It’s a role widely hailed by consulting majors and has been crafted to resolve the disconnect between quants and key decision makers. University of San Francisco’s Vijay Mehrotra and noted American academician Jeanne G Harris said in MIT Sloan Management Review, that the problem was one of communication. “A common complaint is that data scientists are aloof and seem uninterested in the professional lives and business problems of less-technical coworkers”. As noted in the MIT review, there is ample room for professionals whose expertise lies outside the technical realm to act as the go-between or client interface between the analytics team and key decision makers. Lately, many business analyst roles involve acting as a liaison between the technical teams and senior management besides providing detailed documentation of the projects.
Conversational UI Script Writers
This is a role that a non-tech professional can break into very easily. Of late, chatbot companies in India are hiring script writers, bloggers and even behavioral psychologists to get their chatbots talking and make the user interface more human. According to a report, companies such as Niki.ai and Senseforth are even hiring a fiction writers and bloggers to make their bot sound more human and develop a personality. From crafting proper messages to developing a strong personality, writers now can add one more skill to their resume. Not just that, writers can also pitch in optimising scripts from time to time. It is a role that pays hourly so writers and bloggers can pitch in to make the dialogue flow more natural and human. What’s required is a good domain understanding and how to align the bot with the brand or company’s business roles.
User Experience Market Researchers
There is a significant growth in the number of startups in India which are providing insights to venture capitalists on where to invest and emergent technologies. Market researchers or market research analysts are in high demand in consulting majors and startups which are delivering data-driven insights to enterprises and fintech companies on current tech trends in the marketplaces. Role ranges from briefing trends in marketplaces to chalking growth of companies or startups. Another area where market researchers who lean towards consumer insights, is User Experience design. For example, the app economy demands UX researchers who can analyse the market sentiment about design and product, effectively gauge the existing options in the market and provide feedback and suggestions for improvement. With the recent growth in a number of consumer facing enterprises such as e-commerce players, FinTech players that operate via a digital interface, the demand for market researchers, especially on the UX side will increase.
One of the key skills needed to excel in data science field is domain expertise and practical expertise, notes the MIT review. From drawing insights from first hand observations to bridging the gap between technical teams and senior management, these non-tech roles supplement the role of traditional analysts and practitioners and help translate analytics for key decision makers. Another viewpoint is that data science teams are usually panned for working in silos — these roles can bridge the internal gap and help align complex technical solutions with business goals. And one of the key components of data science is visualisation — a storytelling ability that has become an absolute essential for practitioners. The current non-tech roles can fill this storytelling gap effectively.