No PhD Necessary

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The ubiquity of and demand for data has increased the need for better data tools, and as the tools get better and better, they ease the entry into data work. In turn, as more people enjoy the ease of use, data literacy becomes the norm. Ginette: “I’m Ginette.” Curtis: “And I’m Curtis.” Ginette: “And you are listening to Data Crunch.” Curtis: “A podcast about how data and prediction shape our world.” Ginette: “A Vault Analytics production.” “We have a gift for you this holiday season. We’re giving you, our listeners, a website . . . it’s a website of all the AI applications we come across or hear about in our daily research. We post bite-size snippets about the interesting applications we are finding that we can’t feature on the podcast so that you can stay informed and see how AI is changing the world right now. There are so many interesting ways that AI is being used to change the way people are doing things. For example, did you know that there is an AI application for translating chicken chatter? Or using drones to detect and prevent shark attacks on coastal waters? To experience your holiday gift, go to datacrunchpodcast.com/ai.” Curtis: “If you’ve listened to our History of Data Science series, you know about the amazing advances in technology behind the leaps we’ve seen in data science over the past several years, and how AI and machine learning are changing the way people work and live. “But there is another trend that’s also been happening that isn’t talked about as much, and it’s playing an increasingly important role in the story of how data science is changing the world. “To introduce the topic, we talked with someone who is part of this trend, Nick Goodhartz.” Nick Goodhartz: “So I went to school at Baylor University, and I studied finance and entrepreneurship and a minor in music. I ended up taking a job with a start-up as a data analyst essentially. So it was an ad technology company that was a broker between websites and advertisers, and so I analyzed all the transactions between those and tried to find out what we are missing. “We were building out these reports in Excel, but there was a breaking point when we had this report that we all worked off of, but it got too big to even email to each other. It was this massive monolith of an Excel report, and we figured there's got to be a better way, and someone else on our team had heard of Tableau, and so we got a trial of it. In 14 days we—actually less than 14 days—we were able to get our data into Tableau, take a look at some things we were curious about, and pinpointed a possible customer who had popped their head out and then disappeared. We approached them and signed a half million dollar deal, and that paid for Tableau a hundred times over, so it was one of those moments where you really realize, ‘man, there’s something to this.’ “That's what got me into Tableau and what changed my mind about data analysis because at school analyzing finance it was nothing but Excel and mindless tables of stock capitalization and all this stuff and what made it fascinating was finding a way to look at it and answer questions on the fly, and then it actually changed the way I look at things around me. I find myself now watching a television show and thinking ‘well this episode wasn't as interesting. I wonder what the trends of the ratings look like.’ It really has changed the way I think about data because of how easy it's been to access it.” Ginette: “Nick is a member of a growing portion of people who didn’t think they’d end up doing analytics. He didn’t have the specific training for it, he doesn’t have a computer science or statistics degree, and he doesn’t spend nights and weekends writing code. And yet, he was able to produce extremely useful insights from his company’s data stores and help land a large business deal. Not only that, he found the process of finding insights from data so fascinating that it spilled over into his le...

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