Shaping a career in data analytics
IF you are up for the challenges and excitement of working in a start-up environment, data analytics is a good platform, especially for new talents who do not want to be assigned to a specific job. One such start-up is True Vox Asia, the country’s growing repository for consumer lifecycle data — it collates and processes massive amounts of data.
Information strategy director Hamdi Mokhtar said that while the firm has been in operation for three years, the work is very much still exploratory due to the very nature of the company itself — dealing with data.
”Employees are encouraged to experiment and try out algorithms. There is room for error,” he added.
Big data analytics examine large amounts of information to uncover hidden patterns, correlations and other insights.
”With today’s technology, it’s possible to analyse data and get answers from it almost immediately.
”We emphasise teamwork. Mentors help team members to pick up skills and work with people from different disciplines.
”My role is to manage talents from two practices — one deals with engineering, for example programmers, developers and specialists, while the other involves those who deal with data, statistics and analytics.
”We also have analysts who look contextualising our work and research.”
Data analytics require a background in either mathematics, computer science or statistics, while offering specialisation in areas such as machine learning.
Interviews at True Vox Asia are rigorous, with data to work on, among others.
“Graduates must grasp beyond the basic Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. They must also be skilful in programming.
“We look for different perspectives interpreting data.”
”My background offers some degree understanding about trends in technical work.
”The push for data analytics is the result of the availability of data, relatively cheaper technology to process it and new approaches and algorithms.”
Hamdi cautioned that young people, who are interested in a career in data science, should look into the courses offered carefully to make sure they are in line with industry needs.
While Massive Open Online Courses are an option, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation and Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre also hold talks and offer incentives to upgrade skills, and are avenues to network with industry players.
”You can also participate via Kaggle, a platform for predictive modelling and analytics contests on which companies and researchers post their data, and statisticians and data miners from all over the world compete to produce the best model platforms.
”There are a lot of projects at that platform, where you can display your talent to prospective employers.
”It shows that you are willing to take on challenges and learn. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get it 100 per cent right, at least you are showcasing something.
“Many companies are realising the application
of of analytics and we look at coming up with algorithms to help them manage their resources better or assign cases to a resource based on 20 to 30 parameters.
”Application is becoming more widespread as people realise that automation alone is not enough.”
The industry is rapidly and constantly changing with the emergence of new technologies and approaches.
”Data analysts need to update themselves and pick up new skills. From a survey, 18 per cent people went for skills training and three per cent upgraded their technical skills.
”We may need to look into training again because the numbers are still very low.”
While visualisation of data is another fast growing field, only an expert will be able to tell a good story.
”Those who are not technically-inclined can build on visualisation. You need to understand the context and how best to represent the information for impact.”
True Vox Asia is in the process of building a consumer respiratory of the Asian market. “We want to give marketeers, brand and products owners, and entrepreneurs the ability to gain insight into Asian consumers.”
Hamdi Mokhtar (right) supervising data analysts at work.