Exclusive Talk with Edward Chenard, Chief Data Intelligence Officer at Cyberian Data

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About Edward Chenard

Bio:  Analytics, Product and Business Leader who leverages technology to transform businesses, build value, drive growth and create an environment of continuous improvement.  Exceeds all measurable parameters for quality, customer satisfaction and ROI by building the full strategic picture of transformation with impact spanning multiple lines of business globally.  Deep and broad experience within data science, big data, data products, and digital products in multiple industries. I hire and build great teams that transform companies that seek to transform industries.

Transformation:  Created strategic data products platform that cost $3.2MM to build and run in the first year while vendors asked for $20-30MM and 18-24 months to build.  Took 90 days to build it and was profitable in less than 4 months while generating $1B in revenue after three years and changing how Best Buy manages IT and analytics which contributed to the turnaround success of the company.

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Value and Innovation:  Developed the entire big data and data science practice at CH Robinson.  This led to an increase in new projects and data products that allowed them to fend off new rivals and remain relevant in the industry.  Taking a company that had only used Microsoft products to now deploying open source, Hadoop and Spark as well as new analytics capabilities.  Vision which is a predictive real-time analytics platform for tracking shipments was created by this group, allowing CHR to be seen as an innovator in Logistics.

Asif: How do you see the impact of Data science, AI and emerging technologies on the business sector?  

Edward:  More companies have started to understand the value that their data has and are starting to treat it with more respect than they used to.  There is still a long way to go and data science and AI are merely just one aspect of a very long journey we are going to take to get to data fluency, but it is a great start in creating awareness amongst many industries.

I do think some leaders have embarrassed data science and AI without really understanding it.  There is often an allure of the new they fall for without understanding the science aspect of data science.  This often leads to massive waste in data science teams. For most companies, this is still all very new and we shouldn’t forget to constantly grow our understanding of data and the human actions that generate the data.

Asif: Kindly brief us about your role at “Cyberian Data” and your journey inthis highly promising sector.

Edward:  I work with clients to help them build a data practice in their organization.  This includes the algorithm creation, customer journey, productization of data and data strategy. I used to work at large companies such as Best Buy, Target and CH Robinson where I built their data science and big data practices.  I learned a lot along the way and very much enjoy building new teams and products.

Asif: Mention some of the challenges faced by the data science industry today?

Edward:  Getting beyond the math and code.  So many data scientists don’t actually meet the people behind the data, nor do they understand the ripple affect of their work.  Data is very much about human activity and a lack of understanding about human motivations and thought processes has caused a lot of issues for many data science projects.  

Data science leadership is another issue.  Being a data scientist and being a leader of a data science practice are not the same.  Data science leaders need to focus on governance, processes, team building, patents, legal issues and evangelizing the work the team does.  That’s very different from what most data scientists do and so the transition from data scientist to data science leader is often one that leaves data scientists stressed.

Non-data science executives not really understanding the space and trying to make decisions is another area.  Very few really know data science and can translate business objectives to tangible data science projects.

Asif: How do you see the impact of Data science and Artificial intelligence on the marketing sector?

Edward:  I think the ultimate impact has yet to be seen.  For now, it is much about KPI improvements which is a low hanging fruit achievement.  Ultimately, I hope, it will improve our understanding of consumer intent and help to produce more relevant customer engagement and experiences as defined by the customer.  Which is a tall order but one I think most consumers want and are ready for. However, we haven’t reached a level of maturity to really give customers that need as of yet. But I am hopeful we will reach it.

Asif: What would you advice to aspiring data science candidates?

Edward:  Focus on the soft skills.  I see many data scientist who love to talk stats yet can’t explain their work to their corporate sponsor.  Or they look down on those who lack coding skills, which never leads to a good outcome. Data science is a team effort, the data scientist is just one player on the team that cannot be effective without the others.  Being able to communicate your ideas and actively listen and engage with others is a skill set that will never go out of style.

Asif: What advice would you give to Startup CEO’s who want to use Data science to improve their business?

Edward:  Educate yourself about what is really doable and not chase shiny objects.  There is a lot of hype and money chasing going on. There are still fortunes to be made but not by chasing trends, it will be by giving markets useful products that may not be exciting but can be very powerful.

Asif: Which books have influenced your thoughts the most?

Edward:  When it comes to the modern tech world, I like two books the most.  The Intention Economy by Doc Searls and The Connected Company by Dave Gray.

Ghost in the Shell books and anime for inspiration.  

Asif: What are your views about MarkTechPost?

Edward:  As with everything, I stay neutral.  

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