The global machine learning (ML) industry is increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 42% and will be worth $9 billion toward the end of 2022. Despite this figure, there are many cases of data science teams’ failure to deploy a reliable artificial intelligence (AI) product or service.
Part of the failings and shortcomings of AI concern the ramp or process for getting there. For an AI project to succeed, it is critical to have your data fully deployed, available, structured and cleaned. You also must have some algorithms (ML/deep learning/natural language processing) ready to pull the insights and focused data, effectively putting the intelligence into AI.
This requires a very specific skill set and talent pool.
Empower Your Data Analysts
With so many different technology fields colliding, machine learning is a difficult area to master. Deep reinforcement learning (DRL), natural language processing (NLP), AutoML tools, ML Ops, neural networks and model-based reinforcement learning are just some of the subjects required to master ML.
With a shortage of talent and shortfall of data scientists, this is easier said than done. Part of this is because the demand far outweighs the supply, with Bloomberg estimating job postings for data scientists rose 75% from 2015 to 2018. Almost every organization shares this same urgent need.
When faced with a skills gap in their teams and stiff competition in recruiting, how can organizations effectively build a data science team?
One way is to start by looking at your data analysts. They are often swimming in disparate, federated data sources, operating on legacy databases, working with mixed data sources and using Excel to do things it was never intended to do. There is an enormous opportunity to empower data analysts to become data scientists.
From Data Analyst to Data Scientist
Companies looking to hire data scientists from within need to think about how to upskill, reskill or preskill their data analysts to perform the roles needed to implement AI and ML fully. I’m a believer that if you provide prescriptive and progressive curricula around the essential topics a budding data scientist needs, you can equip them with the skills and knowledge to make a difference and move them forward in the organization.
However, it’s not enough to simply equip these employees with a curriculum; the program should have numerous twists and turns. Why? When thinking about how you can train the prototypical ML expert of the future, you must consider all the deep tech skills needed. You also want the business and social skills that are required to attain the expert moniker. A well-rounded ML architect will see the business imperatives, understand how to communicate with engineering and business, and have the tech skills to deploy ML models that benefit your business and customers.
When organizations take roles commonly found in the workplace, such as data analysts, provide them with a sequenced path of instruction that moves them toward an aspirational role, they’ll be well-positioned to realize the full potential of AI and ML.