Shap­ing a ca­reer in data an­a­lyt­ics

New Straits Times - - Higher Ed -

ZULITA MUSTAFA

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.”

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”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.

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