Data Science: An end to survey calls
August 22, 2013 | Alicia Androich | Comments
Data scientists can tell you everything from which customer you’re about to lose to how to best price your products. Using their unique and coveted skill set, they deftly mine golden nuggets from reams of data. A look at who they are and how they work their data-driven magic to help marketers
Cathia Badiere was one of four students in the inaugural year of the Master of Science in Business Analytics program at Schulich School of Business at York University. Her unlikely career path has led her from studying labour market issues of immigrants to devoting herself to analytics. Here’s the how, why and why now…
What’s your definition of a data scientist?
“Somebody who applies statistical methods to big data in order to gain insights for business.”
What got you interested in this field?
It was kind of a switch for me to move more towards marketing. I had done a Masters of Industrial Relations… then was working for a labour market consulting firm, and then I was with Ipsos. I just got more interested in marketing, and the analytics part was what really interested me.
Much of your focus in the program has been on sentiment analysis. Why does that part of analytics in particular intrigue you, and how is it used by marketers?
A lot of companies are now conducting social media monitoring or sentiment analysis, opinion mining; it’s also a field that’s important for politicians in looking at what potential voters are saying about a given politician. So now specific web crawlers and search engines exist that will go in and you’ll get a search from—depending what your topic is—blogs, Facebook, Twitter, product reviews. This vast amount of text data that is accessed, and then marketers glean insight from it by using the techniques from natural language processing which look at the text and analyze it and give an estimate as to whether each entry is positive, negative or neutral. Then they’ll have some kind of aggregate number as to what is being said and what the sentiment is on the given product, brand or politician.
Sentiment analysis is exciting in that it’s taking a bunch of data that people are already providing, so it’s not bothering anybody, and it’s coming up with some insights from it.
It’s decreasing the need for [survey research]; it’s pushing those boundaries and saying, ‘We don’t need to call people up and bother them when they don’t want to talk; we can just go and see what’s being said online.’ That’s one aspect of it that I really, really like.
Can sentiment analysis ever replace survey research?
A couple authors in academia feel [it will]. I think of it more as complementing survey research because the opinions you get online aren’t the general population; it’s just a subset of people that are active online. I think as long as the companies and researchers go in with that in mind, it could be the most vocal people or the opinion leaders giving these opinions, so it’s still worth measuring.
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