— Written By Aditya Narvekar
Humanity generated 15.5 zettabytes of data in 2015. One zettabyte is equal to 10^21 Gigabytes. For a long time, we considered a few Gigabytes (or Gigs in millennial lingo) as a lot of data but not anymore. It is predicted that humans will generate 175 zettabytes of data in 2025, which is about four-and-a-half years from now. This represents a three-times growth in data in less than five years.
There are three major factors that have fuelled this staggering growth. First is the plummeting cost of storing and processing data. The second is the growth of the digital economy which is largely driven by companies that do business over the internet. The third and most important is the value of the data.
Most of us would wonder what is so valuable about the tweets, likes, or comments that we put on social media. The answer is simple – the content that you put out on social media is a reflection of your psyche. The content not just reveals obvious things like your political affiliations, your favourite food, your birthday but also the subconscious preferences that you may not be aware of. It is this ability to reveal your conscious and subconscious preferences that make data valuable.
This is the reason behind Mukesh Ambani’s famous quote – “Data is the new oil”. If you are still not convinced then here is one more projection – as per Forbes, the data science market is estimated to grow from $42 billion in 2018 to $103 billion in 2027, attaining a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.5 per cent.
So, what does all this growth and excitement mean for you and me? Well, if you are a student thinking about career options there is simply no better time to get into data science than right now. Getting into data science right now is akin to getting into computer science in the 90s.
Mathematics, statistics and computer science are the three pillars of data science. Many institutes provide courses on data science including the London School of Economics and Political Science’s (LSE) one-year Graduate Diploma in Data Science, which is also offered in in India through ISBF, IIT Mandi’s bachelor’s programme in data science and engineering. The four-year course is being jointly offered by the School of Basic Sciences (SBS) and the School of Computing and Electrical Engineering (SCEE). IIT-Guwahati, IIIT Hyderabad, IIMs and SP Jain School of Global Management also offer courses in the field. Further, several online platforms including Coursera, Gradeup, EdX have courses which offer an interdisciplinary study of data science and analytics.
This cross-disciplinary knowledge and programming skills are a must for deriving value from the reams of data that humanity is already generating and will continue to generate for the foreseeable future. Most of the jobs in the data science domain have simply shifted to work from home. With the world in a lockdown, people are now generating an even larger digital footprint – more fuel for the Data science industry. While I am not a betting man, I am willing to place a wager on the growth of the Data Sciences industry, if only there were any takers!
— The author is professor and deputy director – data science program at S P Jain School of Global Management