The Future of Data Science Is in the Hands of Every Worker

There has never been a more important time to implement analytics, says Julian Quinn, the APJ senior vice president of Alteryx. And this is valid for all types of businesses, whether a big retailer looking to drive profitability and increase customer acquisition, or an organization seeking to increase the efficiency of its back-office operations.

Despite the pandemic, Quinn says he hasn’t seen any slowdown in business in the Asia Pacific in 2020 compared to 2019: “[The business] continues to accelerate; we continue to invest in the region. I think analytics is more important than ever for any business, no matter how small and large, no matter the industry segment.”

Analytics in a nutshell

He pointed to global waste management firm Veolia, which uses the Alteryx platform in Australia to automate how it prices its services. The complex process takes multiple variables into consideration, such as the Government fee, consumer price index (CPI) adjustments, transportation and disposal costs, and adherence to prevailing contracts and policies – and at a final price point that stays fair to individual customers.

The process used to take three months, but is now completed in just 10 minutes, with the figures get pushed directly into SAP, says Quinn.

Though such extreme time savings is probably an outlier rather than the norm, Quinn asserts the value of analytics lies not in accessing easy-to-obtain details, such as generating a list of the most profitable customers from a CRM system. Leveraged properly, analytics can help businesses derive deep insights such as customer spending across all avenues, or the reason why they are spending more with your competitor.

“When you pull in different data sets [for] modelling, analytics is very powerful in giving you the opportunity to ask questions of that data. I always say that data is to an argument as a root to a tree; if the root is not strong, or if you don’t have the data to support the argument, the tree will just fall and wither and not survive,” he said.

One platform for data

However, the onus is on the organization to bring data together from a multitude of data sources. They also need the know-how to manipulate this data, which necessitates equipping and training workers: “You want any of your employees to have the opportunity to read, argue, communicate with data.”

In Quinn’s viewpoint, the dearth of experts with the technical knowledge or who can code means that putting the technology to simplify data can catalyze a data-driven culture. Unsurprisingly, he suggests relying on an end-to-end platform such as Alteryx to facilitate employees with their data discovery and self-service analytics needs.

The advantage of a single tool helps organizations avoid the “associated overheads” of multiple, disparate tools, according to Quinn: “Manual processes, handoff between one tool and another, integration points that are not so seamless. If you are so concerned about seamless data exchange and governance, you need seamless automation.”

“The genie is truly and well out of the lamp with the democratization of data and its impact on self-service analytics. The data scientists, great as they are, can’t keep pace with the business,” he said.

The future of data science

So how does the future look like for data science? Quinn envisions a future where automatic programming and automatic data discovery is the norm.

“I suppose it will be a continuation of having a platform that is fully comprehensive and that deals with the first mile of the analytics journey. [From] data sources, both structured and unstructured, and on to the last mile of the journey in terms of the output. And doing it back up to RPA, Salesforce and people management systems.”

“It is providing that full continuity, from prescriptive and diagnostic analytics to predictive, by continuing that in an automated way. It’s about making sure that everybody, every data worker: From highly skilled data scientists or citizen data scientists, or knowledge workers, can [use analytics] and add value to the business,” he summed up.

Image credit: iStockphoto/jamesteohart