I came across the phrase “Citizen Data Scientists” during my research and was intrigued by it. Once I read more about it, I realized that it is nothing but a name for an advanced business user who is comfortable with the new-age self-service analytics tools for basic or intermediate data analytics.

A CDS differs from a typical data scientist in many ways. Firstly, since CDS is a home-grown talent, companies do not have to shell out astronomical sums to hire one. Secondly, a CDS has in-depth knowledge of business and is aware of the overall context in which the company or business unit is working. Business knowledge and context are things that you do not expect an expert data scientist to be aware of and that is why companies bank on a CDS.

As per a Gartner report, the number of analytics experts in business units or businesses will grow at 3 times the rate of those in IT departments. Moreover, with augmented data science and machine learning gathering pace, a lot of steps in the entire advanced analytics process will be automated. Given the two facts, there is a possibility that the jobs of consultants/developers in the IT departments might become redundant in the days to come. Creating reports and dashboards, cleaning and crunching data makes up for a large part of BI & Analytics work that IT vendors do for their clients. The advancements made in augmented analytics and emergence of CDS will enable executives/end-users in businesses to do whatever IT teams are currently doing.

What should the IT vendors and we as BI and analytics professionals do to stay relevant? Firstly, even as developers or consultants, we should be well versed with how our clients are operating. Having business knowledge will bring us at par with our business counterparts and will also help us understand the pain-points that our clients are dealing with. Additionally, if we have a full understanding of the business, we can formulate a better solution.

Secondly, the IT vendor should invest in domain-specific research. Traditionally, IT firms have not been known for R&D but given the disruption in analytics space and the pace with which it is going on, IT firms have no option but to work on finding things before they become obvious, foresee problems in the domains they are working in, and build solutions based on them before being asked by clients. IT firms should ensure that their employees in BI and Analytics space take more interest in learning about domains/industry verticals they are working in. It can be achieved by incentivizing domain certifications and conducting relevant training.

Finally, instead of maintaining a transactional relationship, IT firms should act more like partners to their clients by connecting with them at multiple levels across the hierarchy. Vendors should not just restrict themselves to the part of the IT business they are responsible for, but rather think of helping the business expand and grow in every possible manner.

Clients trust BI and Analytics professionals with their data. In the current times, there is nothing more valuable than that. To stay relevant, we need to make sure that they get the best out of their data.


  1. Gartner report titled “Maximize the Value of Your Data Science Efforts by Empowering Citizen Data Scientists” by Carlie J. Idoine, Erick Brethenoux published on 12 June 2018
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Shivam Kumar

Posted by Shivam Kumar

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