In a recent article on “what the technology industry loves to call the democratization or humanization of business,” Adrian Bridgwater examined the concept of citizen-engineering and the role data analytics plays in the trend. Writing “under this movement, anyone can be a citizen-anything,” he opined that a key driver of citizen-engineering is enabling people from any line of business to play with data science tools.

Indeed, there has never been a better time to arm all stakeholders with this ability to enhance their own data intelligence. Businesses of all sizes have grown increasingly digital and this will only proliferate as AI and machine learning, the Internet of Things, and other technology innovations mature.

At the same time, there is a critical shortage of skilled data scientists to help organizations analyze and capitalize on their new wealth of information.

Enter the citizen data scientist.

As Gartner research director Joao Tapadinhas put it, “Most organizations don’t have enough data scientists consistently available throughout the business, but they do have plenty of skilled information analysts that could become citizen data scientists.”

Let’s take the advertising industry as an example. The sector has always been fast-paced and reliant on identifying customer needs and sentiments. This has only increased in the social media age. When equipped with the right data science tools, agencies can access, analyze and act on this data in real-time — all without on-boarding a data scientist.

MMI Agency is one such company that has grown its data intelligence through a team of citizen data scientists. After investing in a new analytics platform, the agency is now able to provide its clients with data-backed insights and guidance to hone their campaigns. For example, drilling into data to show how increasing ad spend in a particular region would impact the bottom line or how priorities should be adjusted based upon real-time industry trends.

Healthcare is another great example. The industry has a wealth of data just waiting to be analyzed to drive improved patient care, cost reduction, and more effective outcomes for all stakeholders. eClinicalWorks, a cloud-based EHR provider, allows its customer community of non-technical users to drill into their data and uncover actionable insights. Its customers realize numerous benefits as a result, with the most significant being more thorough, comprehensive patient care. According to product manager Rohan D’Souza, “Having information at the point of care can make the difference in saving a patient’s life.”

Of course, this is not to suggest that there is no role for true data scientists — these individuals will always be an integral part of the digital enterprise. However, as technology increasingly makes it easier for people to obtain “self-service” access to data science, we’ll continue to see more citizen engineers on the scene.

To learn more about this trend, check out this recent piece in InformationWeek.

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