5 Keys to Asking Better Questions of Data Scientists - InformationWeek

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2/1/2018
02:00 PM
Lisa Morgan
Lisa Morgan
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5 Keys to Asking Better Questions of Data Scientists

Some enterprises struggle to drive business value from data science efforts because the business and data scientists are not communicating or collaborating well. Here are five things you can do to improve the cross-functional relationships and ROI.
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Make a point of working together

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

The best way to align data science efforts with the business is to share ideas and work toward a common goal. Collaboration is the best way to ensure that the insights help advance what the business is trying to accomplish. On the flipside it keeps projects from veering off into interesting, but irrelevant, directions.

"I run into communication issues every day between the business side of the house and data scientists," said Richard Ford, chief scientist at cybersecurity company Forcepoint. "Business leaders need to be clear that data science isn’t some dark art, but very much science: It’s not magic, it’s math. [Conversely], a good scientist doesn’t sit in the lab all day – or at their computer. They have to immerse themselves in the business and understand their contribution from a business perspective."

The first thing any business leader should do is make sure their requirements of the data science team are clear because they need to understand the business side of things. With that contextualization, a lot of problems evaporate, Ford said. Second, business leaders should be clear about the result they want to obtain and refrain from telling data scientists how they should do their jobs.

"There’s nothing more frustrating to me than when someone tells me, 'We should use deep learning for this' when Naïve Bayes is just fine, thank you very much," said Ford. "The business needs to specify the what, and the data science team is well equipped to figure out the how."

Lisa Morgan is a freelance writer who covers big data and BI for InformationWeek. She has contributed articles, reports, and other types of content to various publications and sites ranging from SD Times to the Economist Intelligent Unit. Frequent areas of coverage include ... View Full Bio

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