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Anaconda’s State of Data Science Report Report Reveals Surge in AI Upskilling Among Data and IT Professionals

Anaconda Inc., provider of the popular platform for data science and modern AI development, released its sixth annual State of Data Science report, surfacing insights into today’s vibrant data science community and the growth and usage of AI and open-source software. 

Unlike previous years, the 2023 report delves into the ways generative artificial intelligence (AI) is reshaping the industry’s trajectory and fundamentally changing the way data scientists work. The global study targeted four cohorts across the open-source and data science community: IT professionals, data science practitioners, academics, and students. 

In just a few years, AI has become integrated into the fabric of the business world, but in 2023, we see rapid adoption and innovation, especially in the burgeoning interest in generative AI. Among data science respondents in this year’s report, 68% confirmed that their company is building new products with AI technologies, and 40% are working specifically on internal generative AI tools such as large language models (LLMs). The shift in focus presents unique opportunities and challenges compared to previous years. 

As the technological frontier changes, several unmistakable themes have emerged: the competitive race toward generative AI is necessitating new talent requirements; the misalignment on security between IT and data science teams has reached a tipping point; and data practitioners are increasingly confident that they are delivering measurable business value.

The Pace of Generative AI Investment Spurs Work Opportunities and Fear

Less than one year since breaking into the mainstream, generative AI has upended the talent landscape and introduced new demands for technological adaptation. The report found that companies are already hiring in specialist AI and data-related roles, with job titles such as AI engineer, AI data analyst, and big data engineer. However, this influx of specialized roles and generative AI also have raised job security concerns among the majority of IT workers (65%) and nearly half of data scientists (45%). Simultaneously, there is evidence of a rise in upskilling and reskilling initiatives underway for both IT workers (83%) and data scientists (70%), some of which likely are helping employees manage these changes. 

“The mainstream introduction of generative AI has created a technological revolution like that of the dot-com boom—and we’re just at the beginning,” said Peter Wang, CEO and co-founder of Anaconda. “Across industries, AI will continue to garner research and development investment dollars, leading to more specialized AI models and unique use cases that ease tedious tasks, improve on human accuracy, and empower individuals to execute on their creativity.  The future of data science is fundamentally intertwined with AI and Anaconda is proud to help data professionals navigate this change.”

Low Confidence Levels in Spotting and Solving Open-Source Vulnerabilities

Most data science practitioners use open-source software, yet aligning with IT and security teams remains an ongoing challenge. The report reveals that less than one in five (18%) of IT practitioners feel confident in identifying and addressing open-source vulnerabilities, with nearly half (42%) resorting to manual checks as their primary method for meeting enterprise security standards. This situation is concerning for those responsible for safeguarding organizations, as it can lead to data breaches, non-compliance, undetected security vulnerabilities, operational inefficiencies, and reputation damage.

Rob Futrick, EVP of Engineering, explained, “The overwhelming majority of applications rely on open-source models that present opportunities for innovation that can change the world for the better. However, open source poses challenges and raises new questions about security, risk mitigation, and workforce upskilling. Organizations that aim to harness the potential of the latest technologies with strategic governance and training will be the winners in the AI-powered economy.” 

Data Scientists Confident in Delivering Value Amid Volatile Times

Driving and measuring value has always been crucial in business, particularly in volatile times riddled with labor shortages, workforce reductions, and an uncertain economic landscape. More than eight in 10 (82%) of data scientists are confident they deliver measurable business value with data, achieving time savings and reduced costs. As the data science role evolves, expect more practitioners to leverage AI to make valuable business decisions faster, allowing organizations to stay ahead of the curve in today’s highly competitive landscape. 

About the Survey

Anaconda conducted its online survey from June 16, 2023, to July 10, 2023, which resulted in 2,414 respondents from 136 countries. The respondents were divided into four tracks: IT workers, data science practitioners, students, and college or university professors. Each of these cohorts was asked universal survey questions, and some questions were unique to the cohort’s experience. The report indicates whether responses came from a subset or entire set of respondents. All responses are self-reported.

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