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Tuesday, 28 May 2013 05:34

Deloitte & Kaggle create big team of big data scientists


Deloitte Australia has teamed up with US based Kaggle to exploit opportunities thrown up by a growing shortage of data scientists - people skilled in the use of big data analytics.

According to Deloitte, "The alliance combines Kaggle's nearly 100,000 data scientists who provide sophisticated real-world data science solutions through Kaggle Connect with the 6,000 plus analytics professionals across Deloitte Analytics' global network."

Anthony Viel, national managing partner, Deloitte Analytics in Australia said: "The Kaggle model, and Kaggle's success, has really challenged the status quo in the increasingly sophisticated field of advanced statistical analysis, forecasting and predictive modelling.

"We can now help clients apply data to yield even more effective and timely business insights. This might be via Deloitte Analytics' wide-ranging in-house capabilities but also now, where appropriate, recommending a client use the unique services offered by Kaggle."

The move appears to be well-timed. Last month Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) produced an extensive report on big data - The Emerging Big Returns on Big Data - and TCS CTO, Ananth Krishnan, told iTWire that the emerging market for big data analytics would create huge demand for data scientists (see below).

Kaggle president, Jeremy Howard, said: "Data science incorporates techniques and theories from a variety of fields to draw insights from data that, while not immediately apparent, are extremely powerful. The real challenge is to ask the right question and to get the best thinkers focused on the solution. Kaggle has pulled together the elite of the data scientist community and deployed them as a highly focused, on-demand resource to do just that."

Veil said that the initial focus of the alliance would be on the Australian market, but: "We intend to take this new capability to Deloitte's global network of member firms and their clients via the Australia firm soon..."

Kaggle claims to have the world's largest community of data scientists According to its web site they "compete with each other to solve complex data science problems, and the top competitors get invited to consult on interesting projects from some of the world's biggest companies through Kaggle Connect." A list of current competitions can be found on the Kaggle web site.

The team comprises "tens of thousands of PhDs from quantitative fields such as computer science, statistics, econometrics, maths and physics and industries such as insurance, finance, science and technology ... from over 100 countries and 200 universities."

According to TCS's Krishnan, data science "is going to a very exciting place to be."


"To turn data into useful information and business outcomes you need people to analyse, interpret and then, hopefully, come up with insights. From a people perspective that is going to be one of the most interesting areas.

"You might be getting the right data from multiple sources, you might be cutting it up with all kinds of algorithms and processing them in the rapid real-time ways but unless you have someone who can tell you what it means and how it can create business value the circle will not be complete."

His comments also appear to vindicate Kaggle's approach. He said: "It is not a new skill set, mathematicians and statisticians would be very good at this. ... I think there is sufficient capability in academia in terms of the core academic expertise and inside companies there is a tremendous amount of analytic skill and capability in both the business functions and in the IT functions.

"The question is how much of that skill is scalable. They have been operating with relatively small datasets. We are talking about multiple fold scale increases of the kind of data that is becoming available through these multiple sources therefore can you linearly scale that analytic capability or do you supplement it with more machine learning algorithms and implement them inside computers? We don't know yet but right now the core message is that the skill sets exist in academia and industry but they both need to scale quite substantially."

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