Comment: Data Scientists roles in the MEA region

Comment on the new opportunities in the region for data scientists within operators
Haider Al-Seaidy, consultant services manager, MEA and Turkey at Qlik.
Haider Al-Seaidy, consultant services manager, MEA and Turkey at Qlik.

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Haider Al-Seaidy, consultant services manager, MEA and Turkey at Qlik comments on the new opportunities in the MEA region for data scientists within operators.

Data scientists in the context of business in general is still an emerging trend in the MEA region and most telecommunications operators are not at a stage where they are actively recruiting data scientists; although awareness and discussions are taking place. Rather, many operators are still evolving and trying to enhance their capabilities with regards to dashboarding, analysis and reporting which tend to give an historic view of what has happened in their business.

Some organisations are even creating predictive models, however data science increases the complexity by introducing algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence into the mix to deepen the analysis capabilities and few organisations will jump to this level of complexity without first deploying a robust BI platform.

However, we believe there is an important matter to highlight here. Data is not only for data scientists to explore and for CDOs to manage. Capable business users can be proactive with data too if they have the right tools — tools that are intuitive and accessible, and which encourage exploration through Natural Analytics.

Certainly MEA operators are aware of the need and awareness is building for wider ‘Data’ roles but very few companies have actually recruited a data scientist. MEA operators often have sister or parent operations in Europe where there is a greater adoption of these roles. However, there is a greater degree of product complexity within European operators who often position quad-play offerings spanning fixed, mobile, internet & TV / Media services – the combination of which requires complex rating and billing to be undertaken. Whilst triple and quad play product offerings have been available in Europe for some time, these offering are still emerging in MEA and may ultimately be constrained to metro areas as fibre and 3/4G mobile services are rolled out.

Conversely, many businesses in the MEA region are starting to realise that business users also have one great advantage over data scientists; they understand the business context and the implications of patterns, exceptions and associations that they explore. With easy to use, exploratory technology, there is no reason why organisations cannot or should not empower perceptive employees to spot opportunities, anomalies and areas for business growth.

Any MEA operator with a deeper understanding of its customer’s behaviour and how its services are consumed is at a distinct advantage. This is fundamental to establishing a suitable Customer Experience Management (CEM) strategy, but only time will tell whether the formation of such a strategy will ever reside with a Data Scientist or a CDO or if it will remain in the realm of sales, marketing and customer service departments. The data Scientist or CDO must then clearly articulate a data strategy to support the CEM strategy and work closely with sales, marketing, customer service and the executive management team through and deliver this with data driven explanations.

There is little doubt that in today’s business climate, that organisations must establish data roles and responsibilities — who owns the data and who is accountable for realising its value? While new “data” titles are rightly being introduced to help manage and analyse the abundance of the data which organisations are faced with, it is just as important to facilitate a conversation around the data with the wider business. By empowering all employees and nurturing data enthusiasts with intuitive, effective platforms and applications, businesses may gain more than they could ever realise by looking beyond one sole data employee to make a good decision.

The preconception is that data scientists and enthusiasts primarily conduct their research and analysis on big data and this is certainly the case with European operators who can build vast quantities of consumer data which relate to media and internet service consumption. However, with such services only emerging in small quantities in MEA, there is less requirement for Big Data analysis and many MEA operators have yet to implement a big data strategy and therefore the work cannot be confined to that space. As MEA operators develop content services, their Data scientists and enthusiasts will access a wider range of data sources to generate wider analysis and to discover patterns and associations in the data. Of course, companies storing vast amounts of data would have a greater need for such positions, which is one of the reasons they are associated with big data.

Many MEA operators will spend much of their efforts analysing traditional telecommunications data: Call Detail Records (CDR’s); billing information; rating data; customer information; packages and discounts; and financial data.

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