Data Science is Having its Moment and Jonathan Cornelissen is Helping

Data Science and Jonathan Cornelissen.

Most industries eventually become an important part of the world’s economy, and many people think that data science’s time is now. The field’s newfound prominence is being fueled by advances in technology that make data collection, dissemination, and analysis easier than ever before. It also has benefited from widespread efforts to increase data science education. One of these efforts has been the founding of DataCamp by Jonathan Cornelissen. The work that this company is doing can give us a full picture of this growing area of interest.


Founding Background

Before diving into the field as a whole, let’s look to the background of DataCamp’s founder and the company he helped create. Jonathan Cornelissen holds a Ph.D. in Econometrics from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. That field, an offshoot of economics, is highly related to statistical analysis. During his studies, the data scientist learned the programming language R, which has a powerful set of commands and tools for use in working with statistics. However, that pursuit proved difficult due to R’s complexity and the lack of supporting educational resources.

When it came time to teach classes that involved R, Cornelissen found that his students were encountering many of the same difficulties that he had seen in his own studies, and he saw an opportunity. Not only did he see that his students would benefit from a support system for learning the programming language, but he recognized that many more people would enter the field of data science in the years to come. From that insight, DataCamp—an educational company for improving data fluency—was born.


The Skill Gap in the Field of Data

One piece of information that shows just how important data has become at present is the wide range of people that need data to complete their jobs. Data professionals span an array of skill levels, with some using basic spreadsheets for data analysis, while using programming languages to assist in their daily tasks. While there are different needs within these vastly different groups, one thing that remains constant is the lack of qualified professionals available to fill roles at all tiers.

The DataCamp founder has written about this phenomenon in his blog to help showcase just how vital data training has become at present. Cornelissen writes that “there’s a shortage of people with the right data literacy/fluency.” He goes on to state that the “education market for data literacy is huge and probably larger than the market for teaching basic coding skills.” Both observations again point to a drastic need in the data field. As this field continues to grow, this need may actually increase in the years to come.


Roles of Data Professionals

The demand for data fluency is expanding the roles of data professionals in the current workforce. One of the biggest things those who work with data do is build models to try and determine future outcomes from past performance. They use the data from past performance to determine how to correctly model the area of interest to produce accurate predictions. This not only requires a strong command of R, or whatever other tools are being used, it also requires strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

When properly utilized, data science has practically limitless applications. Data can be used to predict disease healing, political results, natural disasters, and more. Applications are also expanding within the workplace itself. For instance, data’s use in the hiring process can help an HR department find suitable new employees. In reality, any situation where you’re dealing with uncertain outcomes can benefit from the intelligent use of data.


Case Study for Data Use

As a company that focuses on the power of data, it was only natural that DataCamp would seek to use data to achieve goals within its own doors. That pursuit provides a small example of how data can be used to great effect.

The company used anonymous surveys to collect a variety of data points, such as employees’ opinions on diversity, job satisfaction, and transparency. The results from those surveys allowed DataCamp to address specific concerns and implement changes that were predicted to directly benefit employee engagement and satisfaction. Third-party benchmarks showed that DataCamp ranked among the top 15% for engagement.

With modern technology producing and storing data at rates that have never been seen, it was perhaps inevitable that areas of the economy centered around data usage would blossom. The current expansive growth in fields relating to data has created a growing need for professionals who can work with data at every step along its journey to achieve positive outcomes. In response to that growing need, Jonathan Cornelissen partnered with a team to create a platform for learning both data fluency as well as the tools used today. This example should be instructive for anyone interested in working with data.


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