Data science SWAT team

Starting out on the road to data science ‘Nervana.’ Intel’s AI Academy opens with help from Coursera and Kaggle. Chevron as Intel’s data poster child. What makes a data scientist.

OK so you have your Hadoop infrastructure. Expectations are building in the C-suite for AI-derived insights from your big data. Way down the pecking order, a young grad is struggling with the ‘R’ manual and trying to come to terms with your business. You need help with the people side of the data/analytics/AI conundrum.

This came recently from an unusual source, chipmaker Intel, which has taken upon itself to educate the world on getting more from your data. Chief data scientist, Bob Rogers, recently offered advice on starting out on the path to advanced analytics and on cultivating the requisite skill sets. Rogers sees this as a primarily a ‘people problem’ as ‘easy-to-use analytical platforms and solutions are now more accessible than ever before.’

Rogers advocates a data science ‘Swat team,’ which can apply its expertise where it’s needed and then move on to the next project. The team can act as evangelists, teaching others key skills and articulating the value of their work. Data science evangelism is a ‘critical success factor in many organizations.’

Intel’s poster child for the approach is Chevron whose Swat team (a.k.a the Chevron center of excellence for advanced analytics) is headed-up by Margery Connor. Connor stated that ‘most people see a lot of data in their daily jobs and this is the data we want them to work with.’ Chevron pairs participants with analysts who use AI to come up with answers, a practical approach that sharpens employees’ ability to frame business challenges and identify data-driven solutions. Today, Chevron has a companywide mandate that every project proposal above a certain dollar threshold undergoes analytics that include uncertainties in the data and economic assumptions.

Intel is also offering help for would-be AI/analysts with the ‘Nervana’ AI Academy, an online resource that showcases ‘the most recent, open-sourced and optimized frameworks’ along with tutorials. Nervana is supported by the Intel’s engineers who developed the underlying technology and is backed by a community effort in partnership with Coursera. Intel also recently announced a partnership with Kaggle to develop and showcase data science skills in the context of Intel’s ‘AI for good’ initiative.

What is Intel’s interest in AI apart from doing good? A recent job posting provides a glimpse of what is going on at the chipmaker’s New business initiatives group, which is looking for a senior data scientist with a background in digital signal processing, machine learning and AI. Target applications are ‘wearables and Internet of Things applications’ along with a SaaS platform for data science. Work includes pattern recognition algorithms for sensor data from accelerometers, gyroscopes, imaging and more.

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