Demystifying the role of data science for marketing: What do you actually do in the sexiest job of the 21st century?

(fall semester, lecture)

Data Scientist

"Data Scientist - It's a high ranking professional with the training and curiosity to make discoveries in the world of Big Data."

Thomas H. Davenport, D. J. Patil, Harvard Business Review, October 2012

The growing interest in data-driven decision making is due to two developments: (1) the increasing difficulty to maintain a competitive advantage and (2) the wealth of information collected in corporate databases. Data science teams lead those shift towards a data-driven corporate culture. The Harvard Business Review goes as far as declaring the data scientist as the sexiest of the 21st century: “Data scientists are the key to realizing the opportunities presented by big data. They bring structure to it, find compelling patterns in it, and advise executives on the implications for products, processes, and decisions. They find the story buried in the data and communicate it. And they don’t just deliver reports: They get at the questions at the heart of problems and devise creative approaches to them.” (Davenport/Patil 2012).
However, it is still mysterious to many what data scientists actually do and what tools they use to analyze data, how they present the findings and finally, how they use those findings to add value to the business. We demystify data science by giving the stage to practitioners with profound experience in applying quantitative skills on a daily basis.

Prof. Dr. René Algesheimer
Prof. Dr. Martin Natter
Dr. Markus Meierer
Dr. Margot Löwenberg
Patrick Bachmann



Target audience:
MA students, assigned to “Wahlpflichtbereich BWL 4”

One time


Work load statement:

Part Workload Total Time
Course attendance and discussion 10 lectures à 90 min 15h
Preparation for Final Exam   75h
Total   90h


Guest speakers from well-known companies (e.g. BCG, Teralytics, Swisscom) will discuss three key questions:

  • Which business problems does the firm solve with the help of the data science team?
  • What’s the toolbox of the firm’s data science team?
  • How does the data science team collaborate with other departments to redesign a business process?


Required reading:
"Data Scientist" - The sexiest Job of the 21st century


Participation, discussion and final exam (multiple choice exam on 28.11.2017).

This lecture takes place every Tuesday from 19.09.2017 until 22.11.2017, 16:30 – 18:00.

The schedule of this lecture and corresponding guest speakers are as follows:

Tuesday, 19.09.2017 – Die Mobiliar
Tuesday, 26.09.2017 – The Boston Consulting Group
Tuesday, 03.10.2017 – NET-A-PORTER
Tuesday, 10.10.2017 – Teralytics
Tuesday, 18.10.2017 – UBS
Tuesday, 24.10.2017 – IBM
Tuesday, 31.10.2017 – SWISS
Tuesday, 07.11.2017 – Swisscom
Tuesday, 14.11.2017 – McKinsey & Company
Tuesday, 21.11.2017 – Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ)
Tuesday, 28.11.2017 – Exam

Please see


Please see

All sessions will take place in KOL-F-109 except for the last session (exam) on Tuesday 29th of November 2016 which will take place in HAH-E-11.

Further information:

Don’t forget to officially register yourself using the registration tools at the University of Zurich.

The information in the syllabus supports the official information in the electronic university calendar (VVZ – Vorlesungsverzeichnis). In case of doubt, the official information at the VVZ is valid.