The Rise of the Citizen Data Scientist: Democratizing Data Science for the Future


Data has become the new oil in our digitized economy, and organizations worldwide are increasingly recognizing the value of data-driven decision-making. As a result, the role of the data scientist has become pivotal in translating complex data into actionable insights. However, the high demand for data science skills has led to a significant skills gap. A new role has emerged to fill this gap: the Citizen Data Scientist.

Defining the Citizen Data Scientist

Gartner defines a Citizen Data Scientist (CDS) as “a person who creates or generates models that use advanced diagnostic analytics or predictive and prescriptive capabilities, but whose primary job function is outside the field of statistics and analytics.” In simpler terms, a Citizen Data Scientist is a professional who uses data science tools and techniques as part of their role but does not necessarily have a formal background or training in data science or statistics.

The Rise of the Citizen Data Scientist

The advent of the Citizen Data Scientist has been driven by several key factors:

1. Data Deluge: The explosion of data has created an urgent need for professionals who can manage, analyze, and interpret data.

2. Skills Gap: There’s a shortage of skilled data scientists in the market, and filling this gap has been challenging. This shortfall has necessitated the rise of the Citizen Data Scientist, who, while not a fully trained data scientist, has enough understanding of data science to fill in the gaps.

3. Advances in Technology: Developments in technology have simplified data science. Automated Machine Learning (AutoML) platforms, like, have democratized data science, making it accessible to non-data scientists.

The Role and Responsibilities of a Citizen Data Scientist

A Citizen Data Scientist serves as a bridge between data scientists and business analysts. Their responsibilities typically include:

1. Data Analysis: A CDS is expected to perform a variety of data analysis tasks such as data cleaning, exploration, and visualization.

2. Model Development: While a CDS may not build complex models from scratch, they often use automated tools to generate predictive models.

3. Insight Generation: Perhaps the most crucial role of a CDS is to translate data analysis and model outputs into actionable business insights.

4. Collaboration: A CDS often works in teams and must collaborate with data scientists, business analysts, and other stakeholders.

The Impact of Citizen Data Scientists on Organizations

The rise of Citizen Data Scientists can have significant implications for organizations:

1. Democratizing Data Science: Citizen Data Scientists democratize data science by bringing data-driven decision-making capabilities to all aspects of an organization.

2. Filling the Skills Gap: Citizen Data Scientists help address the shortage of data science skills in the market, enabling organizations to leverage data science without hiring a large team of specialized professionals.

3. Enhanced Decision-Making: With more employees capable of generating and interpreting data-driven insights, organizations can make better, more informed decisions.

4. Increased Agility: Citizen Data Scientists can help organizations become more agile by enabling faster data analysis and insight generation.

The Future of Citizen Data Scientists

The role of the Citizen Data Scientist is expected to grow in the coming years. As data continues to proliferate and data science technologies become more accessible, more and more professionals will need to develop data science skills.

However, the rise of the Citizen Data Scientist does not replace the need for specialized data scientists. Rather, these two roles will coexist, with data scientists focusing on more complex, technical tasks, and Citizen Data Scientists tackling more business-focused, analytical tasks.


In the era of big data, the role of the Citizen Data Scientist has become increasingly significant. By democratizing data science and bringing data-driven decision-making capabilities to all corners of an organization, Citizen Data Scientists are playing a critical role in driving organizational success in the digital age. As we move forward, nurturing and empowering these Citizen Data Scientists will be a critical step for organizations to stay competitive in the data-driven future.

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