The art and science of powering business predictions with data

Kian Dixon our consultant managing the role
Author: Kian Dixon
Posting date: 6/5/2014 11:17 AM

In the UK, London leads in forging new schemes to draw and train talent both domestically and abroad. From stepped up degrees, early childhood curriculum schemes, migration talent sourcing, and in-house training, businesses are finding creative ways to shrink the data science skills gap. One such suggestion from techUK's Big Data Hero, Alison Lowndes of Nvidia Ltd is to 'teach code as prolifically as reading to open the doors of the digital age for everyone."

IBM weighs in on the talent gap to define not only the term "data scientist", but the scope of all data science professionals. Though it may seem as though this career operates in a vacuum, it's imperative to understand that along with the analytical components - maths, statistics, logic, and programming, there is a cultural element as well. Data science is the process of applying scientific method to solve business problems.

It requires teamwork and communication skills to not only gather the data, but to be able to present it so that business executives can take that information and implement solutions.

Making Better Business Decisions with Predictive Analytics

Wish you could see into the future to grow your business? No crystal ball required. Predictive analytics can optimize your decision-making. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are core skillsets for a data scientist, but the human element helps divine the good data from the bad.

Much like Michaelangelo's David, systematic data gathering is the raw cube of stone, which must then be chiseled into form; analyzed and presented. An art and a science, data science helps businesses make better business decisions by estimating future outcomes via predictive analytics. These predictions are often based on past performance, customer or client influence, and sometimes gut assumptions based on gathered data. 

As growth trends in data teams expand to include non-technical staff, the siloed idea of simply pushing data from query to conclusion is no longer enough. The data team should have a grasp of how the business works overall to impact strategies and revenue. Businesses know how important data is to their future growth. Effective data teams must interact with managers who can help to frame the company's larger strategy to drive insight and analysis with the right questions.

Hard and Soft Skills

Soft skills are not confined to simply being able to communicate findings. Other elements include instinct or gut reactions that the numbers may say one thing, but based on knowledge of the business, may not be the right answer. Data professionals with a healthy skepticism will know when to take a step back, revisit the information, and what they need to do or how best to present suggestions based on their findings. Collected data is not unbiased. Best practices when studying analysis are to have a list of questions ready such as the data source, worst and best case scenarios, and what must be true for a correct recommendation.

Data scientists and data teams are expected to not only have an aptitude with number crunching, but also the ability to communicate their findings. To combat this and to grow their data teams, some businesses have begun in-house training programs. Computer and IT professionals who show an aptitude for data science may be offered positions on teams to learn from degreed professionals as well as outside learning opportunities.

According to a recent techUK whitepaper, migration sourcing for talent abroad and early education curriculum schemes, as well as domestic apprenticeship and training programs, are just a few of the ways businesses are combatting their struggle to fill key roles.

Hindsight doesn't have to be 20/20. As the year 2020 approaches, advancements in big data, data analytics, machine and AI learning are powering business predictions as employers seek to fill key roles. In a look to the future, demand for data science professionals with both hard and soft skills will be at the forefront of the data revolution.

We have opportunities for Data Scientists across the Bitcoin, Retail, Fintech and Start-up spaces. Explore new ideas and experiment with big data to produce real-time solutions. Get in on the ground floor and take your career to the next level. For additional opportunities check out our current vacancies. 

Contact our UK Team at +44 208 408 6070 or email ukinfo@harnham.com to learn more.

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Where Tech Meets Tradition

Where Tech Meets Tradition

If you’re lamenting the decline of handmade traditional products, cast your cares aside. There’s a new Sheriff in town and its name is, Tech. Just a generation ago, children would leave the farm or the family business, go to school, and then move on to make their place in the world doing their own thing. Away from family.  Today, the landscape has changed and those who have left are coming home. But this time, they’re bringing technology with them to help make things more efficient and more productive. Is Tech-Assisted Still Handmade? In a word, yes. Artists still make things “from scratch”, except now technologies allow them to not only see their vision in real-time, but their customers, too. Have you ever wondered what the image in your head might look like on paper or in metal? What about the design of prosthetic arms and healthcare devices by 3D printers? You’re still designing, creating.  But just like any new technology, there’s still a learning curve. Even for cutting-edge craftspeople who find that sometimes, the line between craftsmanship and high-tech creativity may be a bit of a blur. Not to mention the expense for either the equipment required or being able to offer art using traditional tools at technology-assisted prices. Somewhere between the two, there is a trade-off. It’s up to the individual to determine where and what that trade-off is. Life in the Creative Economy One of Banksy’s paintings shredded itself upon purchase at an auction recently. AI is making music and writing books. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Blockchain all have their place in the creative economy from immersive entertainment to efficient manufacturing processes. Each of these touches the way we live now. In a joint study between McKinsey and the World Economic Forum, 'Creative Disruption: The impact of emerging technologies on the creative economy', the organisations broke down the various technologies used in the creative economy and how they’re driving change. For example: AI is being used to distill user preferences when it comes to curating movies and music. The Associated Press has used AI to free up reporters’ time and the Washington Post has created a tool to help it generate up to 70 articles a month, many stories of which they wouldn’t have otherwise dedicated staff.Machine Learning has begun to create original content. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have come together as a new medium to help move people to get up, get active, and go play whether it’s a stroll through a virtual art gallery or watching your children play at the playground.  Where else might immersive media play out? Content today could help tell humanitarian stories or offer work-place diversity training. But back to the artisan handicrafts.  Artistry with technology Whilst publishing firms may be looking to use AI to redefine the creative economy, they are not alone. Other artists utilising these technologies include:  SculptorsDigital artistsPaintersJewellery makersBourbon distillers America’s oldest distiller has gotten on the technology bandwagon and while there is no rushing good Bourbon, but you can manage the process more efficiently. They’ve even taken things a step further and have created an app for aficionados to follow along in the process. Talk about crafted and curated for individual tastes and transparency. It may seem almost self-explanatory to note how other artisans are using technology. But what about distilleries? What are they doing? They’re creating efficiency by: Adding IoT sensors for Data Analytics collection Adding RFID tags to their barrels Creating experimental ageing warehouses (AR, anyone?) to refine their craft. Don’t worry, though. These changes won’t affect the spirit itself. After all, according to Mr. Wheatley, Master Distiller, “There’s no way to cheat mother nature or father time.” Ultimately, the idea is to not only understand the history behind the process, but to make it more efficient and repeatable. A way to preserve the processes of the past while using the advances of the present with an eye to the future. If you’re interested in using Data & Analytics to drive creativity, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expect consultants to find out more. 

How Will New Financial Risk Regulations Affect European Banks?

How Will New Financial Risk Regulations Affect European Banks?

The financial crisis of 2007-2008 changed banking. The world moved from taking mortgage loans in our dogs’ names to introducing strict regulations for banks prohibiting them from giving out loans to “anyone” without assessing Risk properly. In 2010 the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) introduced BASEL III, a regulatory framework that builds on BASEL I, and BASEL II. This framework changed how banks and financial institutions asses risk. It introduced an Advanced Internal Rate Based Approach (Commonly known as the AIRB approach).  Now, the committee has introduced new changes and, by 2022, all banks and institutions will have to implement the revised IRB Framework, as well as new revised regulations for the standardised approach, CVA Framework and new frameworks for Operational Risk and Market Risk. So, what does this mean for those working Risk? Change Is Coming Change is inevitable, no matter what you do. If you work in Risk Management and Compliance, change is something you can expect to happen, often. As mentioned above, by 2022 there will be lots of changes. The Basel Committee calls this initiative the “finalised reforms”, or BASEL IV which builds on the current regulatory framework BASEL III. Quickly summarised, the changes limit the reduction in capital that effect banks IRB models.  This change is predicted to impact banks in Sweden and Denmark the most, with estimations that capital ratio will fall by 2.5-3%, far higher than the 0.9% expected for the average European bank.  So what does all this mean for Swedish and Danish banks?  What’s Happening Now? One of the main things that Swedish and Danish banks need to revise for these new regulations, are their internal models. The new regulations introduced a new definition of Probability of Default, measured through a model commonly known as a PD model. Effectively this means that every bank must “re-develop” their internal PD Models in the IRB approach. Consequently, we are already seeing a clear response from the banks in their strategies moving forward. It has already become quite apparent that many banks are looking to make IRB model development their focus for 2019-2020 and 2021. This has resulted in a boom in the hiring space for developers with experience in IRB Modelling and Credit Risk Modelling in general, which in turn has led to high demand in the face of the low supply of these types of candidates. Understandably aware of this, modellers are now looking to negotiate higher salaries.  What You Can Do  For candidates that hold the right experience, there are good opportunities at hand. If so inclined, they can utilise this chance to finally see if the grass actually is greener on the other side, or not. However, there are a couple of things worth considering before making a move.   Firstly, are you actually keen on switching jobs? Your skills are probably equally in demand at your current employer and, if you are having doubts about moving from the get-go, you may well be able to negotiate a rise without pursuing a new opportunity. However, if you are serious about finding something new, this is a great time to do so. The majority of banks have found that these new regulations are creating an unsustainable workload,  and are now looking for talent externally to expand their teams. This means that the experienced modeller can pretty much have their pick of the litter.  Furthermore, if you are a junior modeller, there are now plenty of opportunities for you to enter a niche area known for being exciting and innovative. So, wherever you are in your career, these regulatory changes  are likely to have a large impact and open up new avenues for you to explore.   We all know that regulations in banking and finance are now essential, we all agree, even if they can be a little frustrating. However, what people often fail to think of are the opportunities new regulatory requirements create. In the case of BASEL IV, we’re already seeing an increase in demand for strong talent, and a demand for people who are passionate about Risk Management and model development.  For businesses, new regulations also provide the chance to not only improve their teams, but to  create new models that can be utilised to optimise and automate. A lot of financial institutions are already aware of this and are using these models to gain competitive advantage over their competitors, as well as to stay one hundred percent compliant.  If you’re looking to build out you Risk Management team or take on a new Risk opportunity for yourself, we may be able to help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more. 

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