Data in the jobs to come: How understanding data can ease your future

Sany Gómez

Imagine that you can provide any object at home, at work, or in the city with “digital power.” That is: give them the ability to connect to and interact with the network thanks to an integrated microchip that can process and transmit information constantly. Do not worry; you don’t need to imagine much. It is already here, and a new era of possibilities arrives with this revolutionary technology. This is what is called “Internet of Things” (IoT).

But… what will happen in 2020 when, as pointed out by market analysts, any of us has at least five such devices connected? We could be speaking of probably more than 50 billion devices! When that moment comes, and thanks to the amazing “dueto” composed by the artificial intelligence controlling them and the worldwide data available, the devices that surround us will have astonishing capabilities. Starting simple: a house that opens the door when detecting her owner arriving home from work. Getting a little bit further: a toothbrush capable of detecting cavities. Or maybe something more futuristic but reachable: a heart implant that calls the doctor if symptoms show signs of possible damage.

 

Amazing, isn’t it? Well, not really. The next step of the revolution is still to come. We have to try harder, but it is not that difficult to imagine what is next. What if we could wear sensors which are constantly measuring and transmitting environmental data like temperature, pollution, or suspended particles? What will happen when we are capable of introducing sensors small enough to travel throughout our body evaluating and transmitting biological parameters? How much information could all of those sensors provide?

We will soon have small devices (nanosensors) capable of compiling information from millions, or rather, billions, of different locations, feeding the internet with such an incredible amount of data. We would not be talking about “big data” anymore. it would be (it will be) “huge data,” as some experts already point out in the never-ending race for naming things. And it is not that far away in the future, relatively, it is quite close. It is part of the 10 mainstream technologies identified in 2016 by the World Economic Forum (WEF). All these constantly evolving technologies are shaking and shaping the world. It is the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as named by the WEF.

But data in itself means nothing if it is not analyzed to obtain conclusions that drive changes. You can look at all of this immense data from the enterprise world point of view, where your objective might be to increase revenues by understanding the needs and personalizing the client experience in time and form, up to the utmost detail. You can also look at it from the scientific dominium, searching for the best cure or maybe developing the most advanced materials. It is also possible to look at it with the eyes of an NGO, not seeking economical profit, but societal wellbeing. You could even be a local or national government benefiting from data to improve the administration of public affairs.

Society can therefore greatly benefit from the usage of data. But for that, even considering the existence of well developed artificial intelligence, a new set of tasks and expertise are required. Working titles such as Data Analyst, Analytics Consultant, Analytics Architect, Metrics Specialist, Data Engineer and any imaginative combination of those words can be found recurrently on the job listings. A recent report from McKinsey stated that there is an up to 250 shortfall of data specialists in the USA alone.

Following WEF predictions, by 2020, the labour market will require employees with skills such as: critical thinking (that would allow the analyst to discern between bad and good results obtained), creativity (to look at data from an imaginative point of view), social intelligence (to understand data related with sociology and human behaviour), computational thinking (to be able to understand how the machine thinks and reacts) and cross-cultural competency (to comprehend people and usages from elsewhere in this globalized world).

So, we know that in the short future, many jobs will be much related with data. But be aware that other abilities are a must. Knowledge related with social sciences and humanities will be a full compliment to your technological data-related background. Data will be a big part of all the jobs to come, but for a good future, do not forget that we are only human.

Edited by: Kaylynn Crawford and Daryn Dever