The Eternal Struggle: Rectifying Business Need and Analytical Perfection

Abstract: Throughout the course of many data science projects, there often occurs tension between the technical capabilities of a team and what the immediate inherent business needs are for a company. While the scoping of a project may be based upon analytical need of a business, the technical team often sees the future and what “could be done” as a more important task to tackle. This rift can often cause projects to expand in size, nature, and length of time to complete, ultimately decreasing ROI of the project and subjecting the trust of the team to unnecessary stress. Newly formed data science teams and incorrectly managed teams are often at higher risk for this to scenario. With the ultimate possibility that constant straining of the team can result in cuts and abandonment of the initiative, solutions are paramount. During this talk we will explore the main causes of this rift, from both the technical point of view and the business side, in terms of data science team management and project scoping. Mitigation of these problems can be achieved through a fine lined combination of forward thinking projects and business based projects. The inclusion of this will satiate both the need to adapt/implement emerging technologies of the technical team and allow the business side to have ROI based metrics to value their team and time spent. A second cause that will be discussed revolves around the inherent disconnect that often occurs between what the terms “value” and “ROI” indicate for the various members that are at the table during the initiation of a data science project. While many high level managers think purely in business context, the injection of highly technical, skilled employees into the mix often brings a mix of uncertainty and disconnect among many other team members.

Bio: Adam is the Lead Data Scientist at Biogen, where he works on optimizing commercial outcomes through marketing, patient outreach and field force infrastructure utilizing data science and predictive analytics. Biogen is a leader in the treatment and research of neurological diseases for 40 years. Prior to being commercial lead, Adam was part of their Digital Health team where he worked on next generation application of wearable and neurological tests. Holding a PhD in genomics, he also teaches management skills for data science and big data initiatives at Boston College.