Data science and how will it drive changes in the Australian economy

The need for digital and data literacy has never been greater with a staggering 87% of jobs in Australia currently requiring digital literacy skills. And the latest predictions show between 32,000 and 160,000 specialist artificial intelligence workers will be needed across the country by 2030 in the specific areas of machine learning, data engineering, natural language processing, computer vision and other artificial intelligence-related technologies.

What is data science?

But what is data science and how will it drive changes in the economy in the future? At its most basic level, data science is the use of data to gain insights and drive decision-making.

There are three main types of data science. The first is descriptive analytics, which tells us what happened in the past. Next, there is predictive analytics, which outlines what will happen in the future. And the third type is prescriptive analytics, which is driving the greatest change because it provides insights into how we should act to optimise our outcome for the future.

To use Netflix as an example, descriptive analytics tell Netflix the most popular movie in Australia last month and how many new subscribers signed up in that period. Then, predictive analytics estimate how many new Netflix subscribers will sign up in the year ahead and suggest the most suitable personalised recommendations for those users.

But it’s prescriptive analytics that are taking it to the next level by choosing exactly which actors should star, where the film should be based and the basic premise of the show or movie with a confirmed success rate already locked in. To be even more specific, prescriptive analytics can tell Netflix that a certain number of Netflix subscribers in a particular age bracket will enjoy the new movie or TV show – before they have even filmed the first scene.

While Netflix is just one example, there isn’t a single industry that won’t be affected by data science. This is where the WA Data Science Innovation Hub, supported by Curtin University and the WA State Gov’t, plays a vital role, by acting as a conduit between gov’t, industry and academia which enables cross-sector collaboration and access to data science knowledge.

Do you want to know more about data science?

This month (June 22 and 23), we are hosting the inaugural Data Science for Business Conference and Exhibition – a two-day event that will facilitate the conversations and connections required to advance the uptake of data science capability, projects and tech.

The conference is aimed at bringing together the business leaders and the data science field to share the tools needed to drive innovation in WA through artificial intelligence and advanced analytics. Featuring presentations by leading Australian scientist and science communicator Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, among other industry leaders in the field of data science.

They include WA Innovation and ICT Minister, the Hon Stephen Dawson, Chief Scientist of WA Professor Peter Klinken, 2015 WA Australian of the Year Professor Lyn Beazley and Curtin Institute for Computation Director Professor Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, the conference will discuss the impact that AI and advanced analytics will have on the future growth of business.

A panel discussion on gender diversity will be hosted by WiTWA Co-Chair and Valrose CEO Ms Tina Ambrose, Beyond Bank Australia Senior Manager Data Governance Ms Krista Bell, VentureX HQ Co-Founder Ms Pia Turcinov and Lean & Agile Pty Ltd‘s Niamh Toohey.

Data science will change how we live and how we work, creating millions of new jobs that don’t yet exist and changing countless others. The time is now to act to ensure we don’t miss out on the exciting possibilities this new industry offers.

Alex Jenkins is the Director of the Curtin-based WA Data Science Innovation Hub.