Beacons of Light…

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Earlier today, DataIQ unveiled its list of the 100 most influential people in data-driven business, the DataIQ 100, and I’m delighted to report that I was included on that list. It was humbling to be counted among talented individuals, such as Harry Powell, Orlando Machado and Tom Smith, all of whom are blazing the trail in using data to make a real difference in the way they drive their businesses.  The competition was stiff, with a record breaking 1,000+ entries for the coveted 100 places, so we must have done something right along the way!

But as well as being a moment of personal pride, it was actually refreshing to receive good news this week after what feels like a growing sense of doom in the world with the current Covid-19 outbreak.  A beacon of light in dark times, if you like. It’s an interesting time for data scientists: the world is witnessing the bravery of medical staff on the frontline dealing with those affected by the illness, but #flattenthecurve is trending and tales of retail boom or bust (depending on what sector you’re in) are just two examples of data-driven stories that highlight how our profession is trying to make some sense out of this unfathomable situation.

Initiatives such as the DataIQ 100 help showcase the value and positive impact that data can have on business and situational outcomes.  We at Mango are firm believers in the power of data and (advanced) analytics to drive better decisions, not just in the world of business, but to help the most vulnerable in our society and help combat some of the biggest threats facing our future.

Some time ago, the DataIQ 100 committee asked me, and other members of the 2020 DataIQ 100 list, for our views on the industry’s future, and one of the key themes to emerge from this was skills.  The feedback was unanimous, that demand will continue to outstrip supply.

At the end of 2019, Mango, alongside Women in Data, conducted its own research into this topic and discovered that over half of data scientists planned on moving roles within the next year.  A lack of support, funding and time available for upskilling were all cited as challenges within the UK data science community – all indications that vital steps need to be taken to assess skills gaps and plan to unite individuals to create effective, skilled teams that can rise to the growing data challenge for businesses.

I hope that the important work data scientists are doing in the background of this current crisis – from work in the pharmaceutical sector to expedite the release of a vaccine, to work in the retail sector to ensure firms can weather this storm or that food supply chains run smoothly – can shine a light on the difference that data can make and encourage others to join the profession in the future.

In the meantime, I am proud to be included among such industry luminaries and hope that, together, we will be able to inspire others to join our crusade.

Here’s my #DataIQ100 profile