Bangkok 14 October 2018 — Data Science becomes more popular when data is increasingly playing an important role in corporations. However, the general public may not understand what data science is, how it works, and how businesses can benefit from it. Therefore Mr. Oliver Becker, Chief Community Officer of True Digital Park, recently held Tech Supper Club Talk #2 on “Technology and Data Science for Business Growth” by inviting data scientists from leading firms to share their views and insights. The event was well attended by people interested in this increasingly popular science.
The panel talk was joined by various industry veterans, namely Mr. Virot Chiraphadhanakul, Ph.D., Managing Director of Skooldio, a school for tech development training, and also a Google Developer Expert; Mr. Charin Polpanumas, Data Scientist of BridgeAsia, a tech advisory firm and medical solutions provider; and Mr. Chitpol Mungprom, CEO & Founder of Zanroo, a marketing tech startup. Mr. Bernd Sven Vindevogel, Head of Analytics Business of True Corporation, who also has extensive experience in the field, moderated this insightful session.
According to Mr. Virot Chiraphadhanakul, Ph.D., Managing Director of Skooldio, who has both experience in college teaching and working with Google and Facebook, the challenge for data science today is the lack of a large enough amount of data to forecast what we want, as well as how to collect such specific data. For example, a bank might want to offer suitable credit cards to customers, but what should the bank know regarding the client’s lifestyle?
Some banks probably have that data, but the important thing is how to properly utilize it.
He also added, “Some students have no idea how to analyze and interpret existing data for forecasting. This isn’t the responsibility of data scientists alone. In fact, everyone in a company should have an idea about the importance of data, which will then make it far more beneficial.”
Mr. Charin Polpanumas, Data Scientist of BridgeAsia, who has a background in economics and marketing and previously worked with Shopee, said, “Today’s challenge is the lack of data understanding and the ability to convert knowledge from various fields through data science. In addition, the most crucial thing is using the right technology for each objective. Sometimes an executive might say that AI is required but cannot explain why or how the problem will be solved, how it will be used, what the measurements are, and so on.”
On the challenge for business owner, Mr. Chitpol Mungprom, CEO & Founder of Zanroo, a pioneer in data utilization to create value and develop solutions for businesses using social media data, explained that the challenge in harnessing the meaning behind data today has two relevant aspects. “First, people are unlikely to understand what data and big data are. In addition, some data scientists do not have a business perspective and therefore may not understand how to convert the data in order to generate a positive business impact. The second point is the issue of connected data. Today, we all know that customer experience is the king. Customers make a purchase because they are treated well. When they have problems, the company needs to collect this data as well to bring about change and maintain positive customer experiences,” he said.
As data becomes more prominent, more data scientists is needed. In fact, there is already a shortage. Mr. Virot said that it takes time to develop qualified data scientists. While some staff work for a company for a short period of time and choose to shortcut their career path, companies should offer suitable environments with proper infrastructure and tools for data mining. The work teams must be effective in working on and interpreting data and following up on business problems, with proper supervision from senior staff. Mr. Chitpol pointed out that from entrepreneur’s perspective, the sector not only lacks good data scientists, but also qualified programmers to handle both front- and back-end works.
Mr. Charin added that many companies do not in fact need a number of data scientists, but the problem in Thailand is the lack of data and data structure. “The issues are not necessarily the specialty of the data scientists, but we need data engineers in the first place. They should lay the foundation, and we need data planning, models, and case studies. What’s more important than recruiting people who love analytical jobs is preparing the data for further analysis.”
Mr. Virot, who is currently a special lecturer on data science, advised those who are interested in the field of data science to focus on real experiences and applications. They should get started by doing projects as soon as possible. He added, “Some people are very knowledgeable, but are unclear on the practical applications. They may need to start from how to find the data, then how to set the framework to finally come up with a solution. I recommend choosing an area of interest, such as food, films, football, and so on. We should ask questions and start a project with what we love. It’s better than learning theories with no direction.
Mr. Charin also agreed on the importance of practical experience. He underlined the significance of data and some of the fundamentals in this field which includes making the right observations, determining the hypotheses, testing, and giving feedback. These are the relevant processes in doing a project. He recommends beginning with a strong focus on principles than the more complex and trendy techniques.
Mr. Chitpol shared his thoughts based on his own experience in turning insights into developing successful business ideas by concluding that, “If you’re not a business owner, but a data scientist, then you should talk more to your CEO. You can bridge the gap between the two. If you’re already the business owner, I recommend talking more to your clients.”
There is more to explore in the world of data science. The “Tech Supper Club #2” talk was hosted by True Digital Park, Thailand’s first and Southeast Asia’s largest digital innovation hub, which aims to create a startup network. For more interesting activities and talks in support of startups and digital networks, please visit: www.facebook.com/TrueDigitalPark/