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Exclusive: The impact of data analysts in APAC

Recently IT Brief had the opportunity to discuss data science and digital transformation with Praveen Kumar, general manager (APAC) for ASG Technologies.

Can you explain what exactly a Citizen Data Scientist is a bit more?

In an ideal scenario, organisations hire data science experts to analyse and interpret complex digital data with the use of solutions and software to assist in creating sound decisions. 

However, in real cases, most often than not, due to the lack of talent in data science, enterprises already have in place subject matter experts and line-of-business leaders whose routine responsibilities mean they face everyday business issues that could benefit from big data solutions.

Since the role of a data scientist has been a crucial position to fill, particularly in the region, certain members of the company becomes or can become Citizen Data Scientists (CDS) who, despite the lack of actual training or education in this field, are able to step up to help enterprises generate reports, analyse data, and share recommendations that can provide better business decision making. From a corporate point of view, having a CDS is key to using data effectively to provide greater business visibility and insights.

Why do you think there is an increased need for Citizen Data Scientists in the region now?

In Southeast Asia particularly, the demand for data analysts and scientists have been steadily climbing. Companies face an insatiable appetite for data created by an ever-increasing need for services, information and response designed to meet the needs of the digital native. This is overwhelming for enterprises to keep up with.

Enterprises are now experiencing a surge in the volume of data that increases exponentially every day. But to fully understand the data collected, enterprises need to obtain relevant insights from the collected data which can only be derived by having highly trained digital analytic experts.

However, they are hard-to-find, expensive and hard to retain, due to the high demand in the region. Finding a good CDS is easier said than done and it's no wonder they are sometimes called “unicorns”.

Why is there a shortage of talent, and how can enterprises fill the need?

We've read a lot about the shortage of talent, and we've seen a lot of companies experience this critical issue. The pressure is felt in all markets and across all sectors, including manufacturing, healthcare, retail and finance. 

The public sector, too, is constrained from offering improvements in the efficiency, transparency and cost-effectiveness of citizen services due to the lack of talent.

Enterprises can fill the gap by securing solutions that would allow citizen data scientists to rise according to the need.

Companies can employ artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning solutions that are suited for untangling the giant webs of data that pour into their servers every day. 

AI tools are certainly needed to perform tasks such as classifying data and identifying relationships, these solutions would definitely need the creative flair that comes from human intuition. This is an ideal opportunity for citizen data scientists to prove their value by working with AI solutions to gather the insights that can inform and affect business.

Tell me a bit more about how companies can build a supportive, conducive environment for the CDS to provide effective business decisions?

I believe that it all starts with the recognition that not everyone can be – or wants to be - a CDS. It takes some experience and a detailed understanding of aspects of the business, knowing what questions to ask and wanting to find the right answers.

Secondly, there is a huge number of tools available to the CDS, many with overlapping capabilities.  For every tool the company makes available, there must be the necessary support, in terms of training, reading materials, web links and “experts” to help with particularly complex problems.

It is also equally important for companies to make sure the CDSs document their work – metadata combined with the ability to have a business glossary, and the ability to track the transformation elements created by the CDS is critical to the process.

When these issues are recognised and addressed, Citizen Data Scientists are sure to deliver significant ROI and prove their value as a complement to the expert data analysts who are in such short supply.

Can you tell me a bit more about how digital transformation is impacting the region?

The digital transformation in the region is being redefined by the rapid requirement to answer the demand for a flexible, mobile approach to working. The growth in the number of Asia's millennials require companies to provide an intuitive, easy-to-use, all-in-one working space that is mobile, agile, and yet robust, that can be accessed and used anywhere, at any time.

To create this new mobile workforce, companies recognise that they must deconstruct and rebuild the working model, implementing the systems, solutions and security protocols that enable efficiency and realise the benefits of a connected and agile environment. It is also important to note that the flexibility in working experience must still follow with use of data that is shared, tracked, controlled in accordance with corporate governance, privacy, and compliance requirements.

Therefore, it is now essential for enterprises in the region to be ready to optimise its IT infrastructure, and use products and services that provide both security and data accessibility.

Why do you think digital transformation is so important, and what happens once the transformation is complete?

At the rate we're going, the customer-driven enterprise has started turning into a data and digitally driven enterprise. Companies need to learn how to leverage this across all business functions thus allowing it to gain better customer relationships, managing a more productive workforce, enhancing its cost efficiency and ensuring growth ultimately.

The search for learning how to optimise data, what they are for, what they decide to use it for, and how these data will shape business initiatives are just some of the key reasons why digital transformation is a major consideration for today's organisations. Applying and securing the right tools and solutions that will allow them to harness data is equally important as this will deliver them the results that they need.

There might be no end to the transformation that will continue shaping environments to be more flexible and mobile. One thing is sure though, the ongoing breakthroughs will keep on attracting and engaging the brightest talents while delivering efficiency and productivity and crucially maintain security and compliance.

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