Posted: 24th of November 2017 by Aimi Walker
The revolution continues: Highlights from Big Data LDN, Day 2
The Big Data LDN adventure continues. Don't miss the highlights from day 1 of the conference!
Big Data LDN Day Two was just as busy and exciting as the first, despite arriving later in the afternoon. I was ready to embrace another day of engaging, interesting and thought-provoking discussion, this time participating mainly in the Q&A Panel sessions across the talks in the Data Driven LDN Theatre. First up, I learnt about the launch of the Nurture Programme, a proposal developed by Eden Smith, a data/tech staffing company and the Data Science Foundation.
They spoke about their experiences within introducing entry-level or graduate data scientists into employment, and the difficulty they have with the lack of soft skills through the interview stage with established blue-chip companies. Eden Smith proposed a collaboration with their array of CDO networks across these said organisations and the Data Science Foundation to provide an opportunity for aspiring data scientists to contribute to projects with real live data pre-graduation as part of their dissertation.
They anticipated there’d be a live demand from both postgraduates and companies, and they were correct. Already, 2,000 graduates they partner with are able to apply for 90 internship positions within large businesses, which will both help said business to understand the type of skills they can expect from and gives the to-be graduate a better chance of securing employment once departing from academia as they’d have worked as if they were an employee for a three-month period.
Where's Wally meets Data Science Hires
There was also a brilliant comparison of data scientist hires to the popular children’s book, Where’s Wally? These individuals are often hidden deep in the marketplace and are difficult to identify, with many similar types of profiles in the frame to confuse the seeker. Nick Deveney from Eden Smith called to draw more attention to these similar types of profiles, as there is so much agility and adaptability of analytical skill.
Rather than looking simply at titles and tech, use alternative approaches and maintain an open mind when scanning through a CV in order to hire the best tech and data talent! The audience participation element kept it engaging and fresh.
Women in Technology & Data
Staying put in the full house of the Data Driven LDN Theatre, we heard Edwina Dunn (Starcount), Jennifer Holt (Hastings Direct), Payal Jain (Barclaycard Europe) and Celia Wilson (Conde Nast) talk about the importance of women in data and technology. Not surprisingly, we were informed that most companies struggle unnecessarily with gender diversity and achieving the ultimate balanced workforce amongst their employees, and emphasised the need for more women in C-level roles.
They promoted this diversity in order to make more impact, and to allow for more influence from the ways in which women approach problem solving. We need to move beyond this ‘gamer culture’ associated with technology when it was first released and make it feel like a more female-friendly environment. Jennifer Holt spoke about representing your customer base in your internal data team (e.g. both men and women buy insurance, so it should be an even split!)
Edwina Dunn also made an interesting comment about the female consumer being a powerful force, as this is the gender who is typically in charge of budgeting (for essentials such as food shopping and toiletries) as well as visiting price-comparison websites to achieve the most conscious deal. In order to understand the way in which the more dominant female consumer thinks when making a purchase, we need to have more data leaders who are women.
We also discussed ‘imposter syndrome’ within women and how a male-dominated environment can make them feel as though their points are not valid or they are more inferior in their understanding. When Celia remarked upon the phrase ‘he-peated’, there was mass agreement within the room of women who had experience this before (when a man repeats something a women has already said and only then is it treated as heard, which didn’t fill those aspiring women in data with confidence!
The Female Lead
Speaking about her new book release, ‘The Female Lead’, which is aimed at young girls of school age to act as an inspiring journal of successful women across all industries and careers, Edwina Dunn encouraged women to be a role model within your company or your team. Be openly proud of your efforts, outspoken and confident, rather than playing to the timid, modest and submissive stereotypes of how women should behave in the workplace. Have your own self-belief!
After such a motivational talk, and the kind book signing Dunn was able to provide for those who bought a copy, we decided to spend our last event of the day in the AI Lab with Microsoft and Keyrus talking about the improvements which can be made to customer experience and an AI bot. Galiya Warrior spoke about the progression of sentiment analysis, NLP and text analytics into the customer engagement process and how such sophisticated knowledge bases had now been built.
Duncan Maddox was in favour of eliminating the need for human employees to be involved in the sign-up process of the customer engagement process, and spoke about how accurate the voice of the company was now replicated so expertly in the evolution of artificial intelligence. Bots have personality, and with 80% of scenarios programmed already, the amount of knowledge will only be further improved over time. It made me think of the role of a customer service team within ecommerce being the beginning of redundancies across the industry and how prevalent data and analytics remain.
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