Article | February 20, 2020
The world is now heading into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, described it in 2016. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a key driver in this revolution and with it, machine learning is critical. But critical to the whole process is the need to process a tremendous amount of data which in turns boosts the demand for computing power exponentially.A study by OpenAI suggested that the computing power required for AI training surged by more than 300,000 times between 2012 and 2018. This represents a doubling of computing power every three months and two weeks; a number that is significantly quicker than Moore’s Law which has traditionally measured the time it takes to double computing power. Conventional methodology is no longer enough for such significant leaps, and we desperately need a different computing architecture to stay ahead in the game.
Article | February 17, 2020
In recent years, artificial intelligence research and applications have accelerated at a rapid speed. Simply saying your organization will incorporate AI isn’t as specific as it once was. There are diverse implementation options for AI, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning, and within each of them, a series of different algorithms you can leverage to improve operations and establish a competitive edge. Algorithms are utilized across almost every industry. For example, to power the recommendation engines in all media platforms, the chatbots that support customer service efforts at scale, and the self-driving vehicles being tested by the world’s largest automotive and technology companies. Because of how diverse AI has become and the many ways in which it works with data, companies must carefully evaluate what will work best for them.
Article | April 30, 2020
In the present complex and volatile market with data as a nucleus, analytics becomes a core function for any enterprise that relies on data-driven insights to understand their customers, trends, and business environments.
In the age of digitization and automation, it is only sensible to make a move to analytics for a data-driven approach for your business. While a host of sources including Digital clicks, social media, POS terminal, and sensors enrich the data quality, data can be collected along various stages of interactions, and initiatives were taken. Customers leave their unique data fingerprint when interacting with the enterprise, which when put through analytics provides actionable insights to make important business decisions.
Table of Contents:
Business Analytics or Business Intelligence: The Difference
Growth Acceleration with Business Analytics
Business Analytics or Business Intelligence (BI): The Difference
Business Intelligence comes within the descriptive phase of analytics. BI is where most enterprises start using an analytics program. BI uses software and services to turn data into actionable intelligence that helps an enterprise to make informed and strategic decisions.
It’s information about the data itself. It’s not trying to do anything beyond telling a story about what the data is saying.
- Beverly Wright, Executive Director, Business Analytics Center, Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business
Some businesses might use BI and BA interchangeably, though some believe BI to be the know-how of what has happened, while the analytics or advanced analytics work to anticipate the various future scenarios.
BI uses more structured data from traditional enterprise platforms, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) or financial software systems, and it delivers views into past financial transactions or other past actions in areas such as operations and the supply chain. Today, experts say BI’s value to organizations is derived from its ability to provide visibility into such areas and business tasks, including contractual reconciliation.
Someone will look at reports from, for example, last year’s sales — that’s BI — but they’ll also get predictions about next year’s sales — that’s business analytics — and then add to that a what-if capability: What would happen if we did X instead of Y.
- CindiHowson, research vice president at Gartner
A subset of business intelligence (BI), business analytics is implemented to determine which datasets are useful and how they can be leveraged to solve problems and increase efficiency, productivity, and revenue. It is the process of collating, sorting, processing, and studying business data, and using statistical models and iterative methodologies to transform data into business insights. BA is more prescriptive and uses methods that can analyze data, recognize patterns, and develops models that clarify past events, make future predictions, and recommend future discourse.
Analysts use sophisticated data, quantitative analysis, and mathematical models to provide a solution for data-driven issues. To expand their understanding of complex data sets, and artificial intelligence, deep learning, and neural networks to micro-segment available data and identify patterns they can utilize statistics, information systems, computer science, and operations research.
Let’s discuss the 5 ways business analytics can help you accelerate your business growth.
READ MORE: HOW TO OVERCOME CHALLENGES IN ADOPTING DATA ANALYTICS
Growth Acceleration with Business Analytics
1. Expansion planning
Let’s say you’re planning an expansion opening a branch, store, restaurant, or office in a new location and have accumulated a lot of information about your growing customer base, equipment or other asset maintenance, employee payment, and delivery or distribution schedule. What if we told it is possible to get into a much detailed planning process with all that information available? It becomes possible with business analytics. With BA you can find insights in visualizations and dashboards and then research them further with business intelligence and reports. Moreover, you can interact with the results and use the information to create your expansion plan.
2. Finding your audience
You’re right to examine your current customer data but you should also be looking into the customer sentiments towards your brand and who is saying what, and in what parts of the region. Business Analytics offers social media analysis so you can bring together internal and external customer data to create a profile of your customers, both existing and potential. Thus, you have prepared an ideal demographic, which can be used to identify people that are most likely to turn to your products or services. As a result, you have successfully deduced the area that offers the most in terms of expansion and customer potential.
3. Creating your business plan
The real-time interaction with your data provides a detailed map of the current progress as well as your performance. Business Analytics solutions offer performance indicators to find and forecast trends in sales, turnover, and growth. This can be used in the in-depth development of a business plan for the next phase of your thriving franchise.
4. Developing your marketing campaign
With Business Analytics, you’re capable of sending the right message to the audience most eager to try your product/service as part of a marketing campaign. You’re empowered to narrow down branding details, messaging tone and customer preferences, like the right offers that will differentiate you from the other businesses in the area. Using BA, you have gained a competitive edge by making sure you offer something new to your customers and prospects. It enables you to use your data to derive customer insights, make insight-driven decisions, do targeted marketing, and make business development decisions with confidence.
5. Use predictive insights to take action
With analytics tools like predictive analytics, your expansion plans are optimized. It enables you to pinpoint and research about the factors that are influencing your outcomes so that you can be assured of being on the right track. When you can identify and understand your challenges quickly and resolve them faster, you improve the overall business performance resulting in successful expansion and accelerated growth.
READ MORE: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE, DATA WAREHOUSING AND DATA ANALYTICS
Article | December 21, 2020
Machine Learning (ML) has taken strides over the past few years, establishing its place in data analytics. In particular, ML has become a cornerstone in data science, alongside data wrangling, and data visualization, among other facets of the field. Yet, we observe many organizations still hesitant when allocating a budget for it in their data pipelines. The data engineer role seems to attract lots of attention, but few companies leverage the machine learning expert/engineer. Could it be that ML can add value to other enterprises too? Let's find out by clarifying certain concepts.
What Machine Learning is
So that we are all on the same page, let's look at a down-to-earth definition of ML that you can include in a company meeting, a report, or even within an email to a colleague who isn't in this field. Investopedia defines ML as "the concept that a computer program can learn and adapt to new data without human intervention." In other words, if your machine (be it a computer, a smartphone, or even a smart device) can learn on its own, using some specialized software, then it's under the ML umbrella. It's important to note that ML is also a stand-alone field of research, predating most AI systems, even if the two are linked, as we'll see later on.
How Machine Learning is different from Statistics
It's also important to note that ML is different from Statistics, even if some people like to view the former as an extension of the latter. However, there is a fundamental difference that most people aren't aware of yet. Namely, ML is data-driven while Statistics is, for the most part, model-driven. This statement means that most Stats-based inferences are made by assuming a particular distribution in the data, or the interactions of different variables, and making predictions based on our mathematical models of these distributions. ML may employ distributions in some niche cases, but for the most part, it looks at data as-is, without making any assumptions about it.
Machine Learning’s role in data science work
Let’s now get to the crux of the matter and explore how ML can be a significant value-add to a data science pipeline. First of all, ML can potentially offer better predictions than most Stats models in terms of accuracy, F1 score, etc. Also, ML can work alongside existing models to form model ensembles that can tackle the problems more effectively. Additionally, if transparency is important to the project stakeholders, there are ML-based options for offering some insight as to what variables are important in the data at hand, for making predictions based on it. Moreover, ML is more parametrized, meaning that you can tweak an ML model more, adapting it to the data you have and ensuring more robustness (i.e., reliability). Finally, you can learn ML without needing a Math degree or any other formal training. The latter, however, may prove useful, if you wish to delve deeper into the topic and develop your own models. This innovation potential is a significant aspect of ML since it's not as easy to develop new models in Stats (unless you are an experienced Statistics researcher) or even in AI. Besides, there are a bunch of various "heuristics" that are part of the ML group of algorithms, facilitating your data science work, regardless of what predictive model you end up using.
Machine Learning and AI
Many people conflate ML with AI these days. This confusion is partly because many ML models involve artificial neural networks (ANNs) which are the most modern manifestation of AI. Also, many AI systems are employed in ML tasks, so they are referred to as ML systems since AI can be a bit generic as a term. However, not all ML algorithms are AI-related, nor are all AI algorithms under the ML umbrella. This distinction is of import because certain limitations of AI systems (e.g., the need for lots and lots of data) don't apply to most ML models, while AI systems tend to be more time-consuming and resource-heavy than the average ML one. There are several ML algorithms you can use without breaking the bank and derive value from your data through them. Then, if you find that you need something better, in terms of accuracy, you can explore AI-based ones. Keep in mind, however, that some ML models (e.g., Decision Trees, Random Forests, etc.) offer some transparency, while the vast majority of AI ones are black boxes.
Learning more about the topic
Naturally, it's hard to do this topic justice in a single article. It is so vast that someone can write a book on it! That's what I've done earlier this year, through the Technics Publications publishing house. You can learn more about this topic via this book, which is titled Julia for Machine Learning(Julia is a modern programming language used in data science, among other fields, and it's popular among various technical professionals). Feel free to check it out and explore how you can use ML in your work. Cheers!