Data scientists will be in demand in every industry including those outside the technology sector according to the World Economic Forum, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), LinkedIn, and key industry players. LinkedIn, the world’s largest online professional network, saw a 190 percent global increase in skills related to data science and artificial intelligence from 2015 to 2017. In the US, more than one third of the top 15 emerging jobs is related to artificial intelligence and data science. In the Philippines, DoLE included “data scientist” in the list of emerging jobs. In India, demand for data scientists increased by 417 percent in 2018 but supply only increased by 19 percent.
“The advent of AI and data science will force businesses to rethink traditional organisational structures and processes," said Jaleel Abdul, VP for People Resources at Adobe India. "Data Science is increasingly becoming a business critical function, paving the way for a company’s future. In view of this, developing data science capabilities and attracting such talent is one of the top-most priorities for a business today."
In November 2017, the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) launched the 14-month Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) graduate degree program to fill the need for data scientists in Asia. Recently, the pioneering class of the MSDS program presented their AI projects to an audience of fellow data scientists, academe, government, and executives from the private sector as part of their Deep Learning course requirement under School of Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (SITE) Head Dr. Christopher Monterola. Deep learning is a set of machine learning and computational models inspired by the structure and function of the human brain.
“Every single existing business we have will be transformed and disrupted," said Rene Almendras, president and CEO of AC Infrastructure Holdings Corporation and Managing Director of Ayala Corporation during the event. "When you are into a transformation of sorts, you have to accept the fact that you don’t have a very clear view of the future. But you need to make business decisions and you need to make strategic decisions. Having a better understanding of certain things helps make those decisions more effective. Data clearly is a very important reference point. You are going to feel a lot safer if you have really good data analytics in place."
“Data science is one of the main pillars of the innovation that’s going on in different industries so it’s really in very high demand,” said Gregory Domingo, adviser to the board at SM Investments Corporation and former DTI Secretary.
The MSDS deep learning projects demonstrated the applications of data science and artificial intelligence in 7 out of the top 10 key employment generating (KEG) sectors identified by DOLE:
— For Wholesale and Retail Trade, automatic image classification of convenience store products.
— For Transport and Logistics, flight delay prediction.
— For Agribusiness, image classification of healthy and sick swine for livestock management.
— For Banking and Finance, stock price prediction to aid portfolio management.
— For Hotel Restaurant and Tourism, price prediction of Airbnb listings.
— For Health and Wellness, ECG signal classification and image classification of skin lesions.
— For IT-BPM, text generation using an author’s writing style.
Other projects tackled art (predicting the value of Filipino paintings) and public safety (panic and distress sound recognition). These projects demonstrated the wide applicability and versatility of Data Science.
From left: Dr. Christopher Monterola (Head, SITE and Executive Managing Director, ACCeSs@AIM), Gregory Domingo (Adviser to the Board, SM Investments Corporation), Dr. Erika Legara (Academic Program Director, MSDS and Deputy Director, ACCeSs@AIM), Dr. Jikyeong Kang (President and Dean, AIM), Rene Almendras (Managing Director, Ayala Corporation)
“I like the idea that people are beginning to talk about the ability to harvest information and perspectives from almost anything, said Almendras. "Whether it’s art, heart rates, or airline schedules. I like the freshness of ideas, but what I appreciate more than anything else is the broader perspective."
Despite technical roles being heavily represented on the different emerging jobs lists, soft skills - like oral and visual communication, leadership and management - make up more than half of the in demand skills. These skills also have the biggest shortage. In the AIM MSDS program, soft skills are taught by a fusion of analytics, communication, business, and management modules.
“It was very important that our data science graduates will be able to engage in a conversation with executives, with decision makers, and with policy makers, said AIM’s President and Dean Jikyeong Kang. "I am very proud that they can stand in front of a crowd and present their ideas and their findings because at the end of the day, you may have wonderful ideas and solutions but if you cannot communicate what you have to offer, nobody will buy your ideas and solutions."
“We presented our curriculum in Hawaii at the 2018 Annual Meeting of AACSB, the biggest gathering of business academics and administrators around the world. I was pleasantly surprised when my co-speaker, Prof. Padmanabhan of the University of South Florida, said in front of over 250 participants that the data science program we are offering at AIM has the best design he has ever seen,” shared Associate Professor Erika Legara, Academic Program Director for MSDS. AIM is the only AACSB-accredited business school in the Philippines.
“The team of Chris and Erika has made this program such a success, as seen from the quality of the presentations and the students,” said Domingo. Global ranking agency Eduniversal ranked AIM’s MSDS program third in Far East Asia, ahead of data analytics masters programs in Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.
The MSDS students are currently working on their capstone projects with mentorship from AIM’s industry-facing research lab: the Analytics, Computing, and Complex Systems Laboratory (ACCeSs@AIM). The projects are real-world business and data science use cases provided by AIM’s industry and government partners.
For professionals who want to develop a career in Data Science while also upgrading the soft skills that would give them an edge in this rapidly changing jobs landscape, the application for the next cohort of AIM MSDS students is open. Classes start 4 March 2019. More information can be found on their website (https://msds.datascience.aim.edu/) or through email (email@example.com).