Empowering Citizen Data Scientists

by   |   December 1, 2016 5:30 am   |   0 Comments

Chris Wareham, Senior Director, Product Management, Adobe Analytics

Chris Wareham, Senior Director, Product Management, Adobe Analytics

The goal of every organization is to better connect with prospective and current customers. Data scientists have traditionally supported this goal by collecting and analyzing reams of customer information in an effort to surface insights from today’s data deluge, which is expected to grow 40 percent each year through 2020. But the role of data professionals – and the role of data science – is now changing for two big reasons:

  1. There’s a need for more customer intelligence across the organization. Only 23 percent of companies take the time to analyze customer feedback across departmental silos.
  2. Demand for data scientists may be as much as 60 percent greater than supply by 2018.

This highlights the need to shift the way we think about data science and data professionals. Today, organizations are shifting to data science as a service: the idea that any team member should be able to access data in real-time to improve decision-making and optimize the customer experience.

Data science is no longer just the job of a lone individual with a great quantitative background, or the job of the IT department. Supported by smart data discovery tools and automated analysis, data professionals are now working to increase everyone’s affinity for data. They’re acting as data curators, sharing self-service data sets that non-quants can explore and interact with. This is opening up a whole new realm of possibilities by enabling creative and customer-facing roles to make more day-to-day decisions that are informed by data and customer intelligence.

We’re seeing the result of this effort with the advent of what Gartner calls the citizen data scientist, and it’s moving the needle for teams across the organization:

  • Product and Web: A leading 300-year-old global bank is using customer intelligence to improve product and digital experiences. Data professionals work with these product and web teams to help inform the customer journey and how customers are interacting with the brand. Through this process, the team identified a loan application with a sub-par mobile experience, which was leading to very low conversions. Streamlining this mobile hiccup improved customer conversions by 20 percent. Constantly surfacing insights like this among product and web teams has dramatically improved overall customer satisfaction.


  • Customer Service: By the time a caller reaches customer service, they’re often frustrated and need to be handled carefully. In response, call center representatives are now accessing information in real time that can give them insight into the customer’s frame of mind and potential problems, such as customer purchase and return frequency, and customer survey ratings. Ultimately, this allows the customer service representative’s script to change based on the history of the person calling, leading to improved overall customer satisfaction.


  • Content Creators: At a major publisher and retailer, editors are constantly using curated data and smart data discovery to inform which types of editorial content will pique customer interest. For example, the team began creating Halloween articles back in June based on data showing that’s when interest starts building, and they were able to further enhance that content with data around specific celebrities’ popularity at the time, increasing page views by 300 percent. Curated and accessible data is critical to enabling the editorial team to stay on top of today’s mountain of digital events and trends, helping them deliver the kinds of lifestyle experiences that resonate best with customers.


  • Graphic Designers: Graphic designers are now using real-time information that allows them to see how an image performed across key metrics such as impressions, demographics and time-of-day. The ability to determine which assets work best in which situation improves both workflow efficiency and the customer experience. Recently, a global PC manufacturer began using this data to guide creative content on its website. Fueled by new insights, the team began serving more high-definition video and interactive elements and repositioned critical filters on the page, leading to a 15 percent lift in conversions.


Potential Solutions

Empowering citizen data scientists through data science as a service will enable the organization to spend less time digging through data and more time acting on data. But it will require an active change across the organization:

  1. Automate as much of the “janitorial” and advanced analytics process as possible. Everything from anomaly detection, segmentation, and discovery of customer paths through brand interactions can be streamlined by today’s industry tools. This frees up time for data scientists and analysts to focus on people while enabling non-quants to do more with data.
  2. Support data professionals as curators who empower teams by disseminating foundational data skills and understanding. With today’s capabilities, teams can easily gather their own insights and become data-driven professionals in their own right if they’re working with simplified data sets and intuitive tools. And as subject matter experts, they’re poised to glean even more insights in less time by actively working with data.

Ultimately, this shift empowers data professionals to provide more insight more quickly to more people within the organization while simultaneously giving users more control over the data they use on a day-to-day basis – further supporting their analytics initiatives, which is estimated to yield an average ROI of $13.01 per dollar of investment. Are you creating citizen data scientists within your organization?


As senior director of product management for Adobe’s Analytics Solution, Chris Wareham directs the teams responsible for mapping strategy and driving the innovation and growth of Adobe Analytics.

Wareham has nearly two decades of high-tech experience. In addition to more recent roles at Omniture, Micromuse, and IBM, he started his private sector career at Lucent Technologies, where he helped develop mobile telecommunications networks in Caribbean/Latin America and Asia/Pacific regions. Prior to that, he served as a squad leader in the US Army’s electronic warfare service. He holds dual Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Kansas, and was his class salutatorian at the Defense Language Institute, where he studied Arabic.

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