The current working definitions of Data Analytics and Data Science are inadequate for most organizations. But in order to think about improving their characterizations, we need to understand what they hope to accomplish. Data analytics seeks to provide operational observations into issues that we either know we know or know we don’t know. Descriptive analytics, for example, quantitatively describes the main features of a collection of data. Predictive analytics, that focus on correlative analysis, predicts relationships between known random variables or sets of data in order to identify how an event will occur in the future. For example, identifying the where to sell personal power generators and the store locations as a function of future weather conditions (e.g., storms). While the weather may not have caused the buying behavior, it often strongly correlates to future sales.
The goal of Data Science, on-the-other-hand, is to provide strategic actionable insights into the world were we don’t know what we don’t know. For example, trying to identify a future technology that doesn’t exist today, but will have the most impact on an organization in the future. Predictive analytics in the area of causation, prescriptive analytics (predictive plus decision science), and machine learning are three primary means through which actionable insights can be found. Predictive causal analytics precisely identifies the cause for an event, take for example the title of a film’s impact on box office revenue. Prescriptive analytics couples decision science to predictive capabilities in order to identify actionable outcomes that directly impact a desired goal.
Separating data analytics into operations and data science into strategy allows us to more effectively apply them to the enterprise solution value chain. Enterprise Information Management (EIM) consists of those capabilities necessary for managing today’s large scale data assets. In addition to relational data bases, data warehouses, and data marts, we now see the emergence of big data solutions (hadoop). Data analytics (EDA) leverages data assets to provided day-to-day operational insights. Everything from counting assets to predicting inventory. Data science (EDS) then seeks to exploit the vastness of information and analytics in order to provide actionable decisions that has a meaningful impact on strategy. For example, discovering the optimal price point for products or the means to increase movie theater box office revenues. Finally, all of these insights are for nothing if they are not operationally fused into the capabilities of the larger enterprise through architecture and solutions.
Data science is about finding revelations in the historical electronic debris of society. Through mathematical, statistical, computational, and visualization, we seek not only to make sense of, but also provide meaningful action through, the zero and ones that constitute the exponentially growing data produced through our electronic DNA. While data science alone is significant capability, its overall valuation is exponentially increased when coupled with its cousin, Data Analytics, and integrated into an end-to-end enterprise value chain.