As an entrepreneur, I’ve operated in the world of data for over twenty-five years. We are renowned data marketing agents for the ICT and Automotive markets under the names of Computer Profile and Fleet Profile respectively. In short, we handled data before data ever became a hot topic. Neither was it cool, for that matter. However, now that data is increasingly becoming the driving force behind scores of new processes, it is essential for us to continue (under what will soon be called Smart Profile) beyond our traditional strength: collecting, distributing, and organising data.
It’s not always easy for established organisations like ours to find the right speed for implementing technical innovations quickly and adequately and to anticipate the effects of the transformation on the market. That’s why we’re also looking for an ‘external driver’, a way of speeding up renewal with an external impulse within our organisation. To that end we’ve found a number of attractive places, such as Brightlands Innovation Factory or the Jheronimus Academy for Data Science (JADS) in Den Bosch.
Last week, I visited the Data Science Career Day, which was held here. An interesting day for (future) for helping data scientists contact companies and take the first steps towards a good career.
Co-operation between academics and the business world
The JADS is a partnership between the province of North Brabant, the Technological University of Eindhoven, and Tilburg University. Students take an academic course which goes beyond the technical aspects of elements such as data collection and visualisation. Ethical and legal issues are also considered. In the meantime, some companies have also set up offices in an unusual location, Mariënburg in Den Bosch. This means that the academic and business worlds literally come together in one place.
Clients and data
Before I started on programmes such as those with Brightlands or JADS, I was wondering how we as Computer Profile could become even more relevant for our clients and society in the future. And I’ve found the answer to that question in precisely those sorts of environments!
We collect data and we can convert it into useful information. Our clients, both larger and smaller B2B companies which are looking for new ways to run their sales and marketing operations more effectively, are facing a ‘customer journey’ which is becoming increasingly complex. They are looking for a 360° insight into the market, call it a holistic picture. However, since their clients are increasingly well informed and more changeable, it is becoming more and more difficult to establish precisely who is and who isn’t a potential buyer. Basic segmentation doesn’t do the job any more. And so, to arrive at your real ‘addressable market’, you have to be even more ingenious in handling your data.
The metaphor of the external driver fits in very well with our current situation. We’ve now become a considerable ship, but we can certainly use some more external insights for more versatility and drive. Data scientists in the making are the absolutely ideal candidates to shape our further innovation.
A start-up with good ideas can make use of our knowledge and experience, whilst in turn they can take us along in an innovative manner to help us exploit that data. We can then put those plans into practice with our contacts, who, in turn, want to be the first ones to apply possible new products or solutions.
Win, win, win, surely?
A different venue
For such an external driver, that ‘outside board’ really is essential. That isn’t the same as employing a student. Allowing the innovation to go ahead at a different venue to your own works better, I think, because here you bring together the best of three worlds. You add new competences to what you already have and thereby ensure extra speed in innovation. This type of co-operation between a data scientist, Computer Profile, and our clients fits in excellently with the transformation process which we as a company find ourselves in. It is also true for a data specialist that we can always use and open up our data and knowledge for our clients even better. The first contacts with tomorrow’s data scientists are now a fact.
Brightlands Innovation Factory focuses on start-ups and companies which want to grow by providing tailor-made programmes and linking up talent, markets, and investors.
Jheronimus Academy of Data Science organises Bachelor and Master’s courses and conducts research in Data Science. It also gives researchers and students the opportunity to work together closely with companies.