How Hiring a Data Science Consultant Can Help Cut the Noise
As humans, we like certainty. We strive to achieve the “defined” everywhere, from seeking the best in purchases and investments to our lifestyles and even our relationships. Of course, we do the same with business decisions. Many of us can be so preoccupied and comfortable with our choices that we rarely want to revisit the underlying assumptions and instincts. And yet, we are surprised when age-old business strategies suddenly start to fail.
Take, for example, the fashion industry. Fashion trends change faster than ever. If inventory is designed based on traditional patterns and only changes quarterly, stores cannot keep up with updates in consumer outlook. If instead they use mathematical analyzes of data, they can be more successful with customers whose tastes are different each month. Bringing in data scientists who constantly monitor consumer trends on social media and elsewhere can help brands stay up-to-date on the ever-changing landscape.
DATA SCIENCE APPLICATIONS
The application of data science can also be exceptionally transformative for fields outside of fashion, such as digital marketing. Many marketers may not be able to look at the success of LinkedIn, social media, or proprietary data sources and find the right mix, and therefore strategies may not be changed if necessary. However, with insights provided by data science consultants, campaign managers can adjust outbound campaigns daily rather than monthly. This can lead to decreased turnover of money and resources and fewer lost opportunities. It can also allow companies to improve their processes and go beyond digital marketing.
Chain stores like 7-Eleven are great examples of how this applies to inventory management. Each store carries hundreds of items and many different varieties of each item. By using data science to examine all placements and traffic, it is possible to gain comprehensive insights into what item is selling at what price and where it should be positioned in the store. An item may sell much faster in a particular store, but not in another store due to a difference in positioning. Simplified activation of highly analytical information can allow companies to change their strategies daily from one site to another to increase their sales. As fixed costs remain the same but sales increase, businesses can improve their revenue.
DO COMPANIES NEED A DATA SCIENCE CONSULTANT?
Data scientists are highly qualified and can assess whether your business strategy is anchored in quantitative evidence. They also take into account a much broader scope of the actual performance of solutions and strategies.
For example, a company plans to invest X amount of dollars in acquiring Y amount of leads based on advice from consultants with historical data. A data scientist can predict the exact rate of lead generation. More importantly, they can look at the big picture in the industry and find examples where a company with similar strategies may have failed and identify the exact cause of failure. This can allow the company to fine-tune its business plan and avoid the same mistakes.
Perhaps one of the biggest arguments against hiring a data scientist is that computers can do anything. However, even the best data analytics and business intelligence tools require a skilled data scientist to unleash their true power.
Algorithms and data science consultants work best when they deploy in tandem. AI models run in real time and need negative feedback from human inputs to stabilize without interruption as the assumptions underlying the model change. The math needs to be continually adjusted by a person to align with the modeling goals. Data scientists can be AI modelers, but AI modelers or models cannot serve as data science consultants. These consultants are needed to continuously review the results and improve performance of AI in ever-expanding contexts.
Data science is more adaptive, and the numbers and models deployed by scientists are continually changing. Businesses don’t need to blindly navigate and throw strategies against the wall to see what sticks. The quantitative fundamentals of data science can tell businesses precisely what will work and how successful, even in changing environments. Data science support is consistent and helps companies make long-term decisions while remaining adaptable to unexpected changes in market demands.
FINDING THE RIGHT DATA SCIENTIST
The need for data science consultants is critical, but you may not know how to find the right one for your business. Companies need to find the right balance between the skills of data scientists to build remarkable adaptive models and their ability to capture the DNA of the company. Interviews alone may not be an effective tool in such hiring scenarios.
Companies must have clear objectives based on their needs and ask data scientists to propose solutions. This can significantly improve the rental quality, as companies gain insight into the suitability of proposed solutions and the scientist’s thought process. It is also necessary for companies to keep an open mind and listen to the person and the company that fit together.
The need to tap into your data streams and truly understand them is greater than ever. With more companies unlocking advanced data tools and talent every day, shifting to a data-driven strategy is essential. In this world, if you’re not ahead, you’re behind, and it won’t be long before the distance is too far to catch up.
Founder, CEO and CIO of MGH Fundmanaging investments in the financial technology, health technology and communications sectors.