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Data Science and Analytics Trends for 2019

January 21, 2019

New technology is often at the forefront of the latest data science and analytics trends. But next year, that may not be so. The real challenge now is in finding ways to leverage current technology to improve operations and getting key personnel onboard with making the change.

Continued job growth in the data science field is expected over the next decade as the hiring of employees to help guide an organization through the transformation to data-driven strategies remains a key trend. Change doesn’t always come easy, however, IDC projects that spending by businesses on data and analytics software and services will reach $260 billion annually by 2020, a big increase over the $166 billion projected for 2018.

How will data and analytics be used? That depends on the business. The following looks at data science and analytics trends you can expect to see in 2019 – many of which have already started.

AI Developers

AI has been discussed repeatedly in recent years, but businesses are slow to put it into use. That could change in the next few years. Gartner projects that by 2022, 40% of new development projects will have AI co-developers on the team.

However, incorporating AI into business processes is not a simple task. Many companies have not determined yet the best way to approach the issue. As pointed out by Gartner, “change is outpacing the production of competent professionals.” That’s where those with expertise will be valuable.

Virtual Care

AI-enhanced virtual care is an emerging technology. It helps to address the shortage of medical clinicians in some areas of the country. In many rural and some urban locations, a movement is underway to provide virtual care that will lessen the need for face-to-face visits with medical professionals. Gartner reports that its research shows virtual care can help control costs, improve healthcare quality and improve access to healthcare. They also predict that by 2023, virtual care could reduce emergency room visits by 20 million.

Reinforcement Learning

Those in academia are well-aware of reinforcement learning, but its use in business has been limited. It involves machine learning, specifically the ability to learn how to behave in an environment by taking actions and seeing the results. One of the most famous examples is of AlphaGo, which defeated the human Go champion in 2016, an event watched by 200 million people worldwide. More investment in reinforcement learning will happen in 2019, according to Forbes.

Job Growth

The emergence of AI will not mean a slowdown in data scientist jobs. The federal government projects 19% growth in the field of “computer and information research scientists” by 2026, with growth in Massachusetts, projected even higher at 22.4%. Massachusetts is also in the top 5 for all states in terms of annual mean salary for professionals working in data. In May 2017, that figure stood at $131,620.

Overcoming Hurdles to Digital Transformation

Perhaps the most important trend is the effort to shift how business leaders think about analytics and data in 2019. People interested in entering this industry are well aware of the capabilities of data science and business analytics. At the same time, executives are searching for how to best use data to solve business challenges.

There are roadblocks that companies will be trying to overcome.

  • Resistance to change. This is one of the major barriers in switching to data-driven decision making.
  • Business leaders who are unclear on the best use of data science and analytics. While media report after media report proclaims the latest data-related advances, businesses are focused more on how data and analytics can be used to solve business challenges.
  • Seeing past the hype. Many companies have emerged with software they claim can solve all an organization’s data needs. But that is not the case without the proper personnel and strategy. This has created disillusionment among some business leaders about what data can really do.

The digital transformation of business is not a temporary change. It is a fundamental shift that will forever alter how organizations conduct business. In a report by Forrester, almost half of the business executives surveyed said they expect 50 percent of their revenues to be impacted by digital by 2020.

And yet, 56% said they have just started making the transformation into digital. Another 15% said they were still investigating the issue.

Clearly, the job growth numbers show that coming data science and analytics trends will offer professionals many opportunities in 2019 and beyond. Many businesses are just now catching up to the possibilities of data analytics. They will need people onboard who can help guide their organization through the change.