After our elaborate blog series, it comes as no surprise that our team is driven by data. In this series, we introduce a few of our passionate team members. In an intimate interview, we ask them to tell us about themselves and the purpose of data insights in your company!
Last but not least, we give the floor to data scientist Sem Peelman. Sem started his professional career in the academic world. As an assistant at the University of Antwerp, he taught various practice sessions and conducted in parallel research into signal processing.
The start of analytics within the AE family
After a few years at the university, Sem opted for a different path: “I went looking for a job in which I could work on a wider variety of projects. That’s how I ended up in the AE family. What appealed to me most is the solidarity among colleagues, as did the culture of helping, in which consultants can easily rely on colleagues who are experienced in a similar or a completely different knowledge domain.”
It wasn’t long before Sem found his place in the analytics team. Sem: “I joined the team during the first milestones of our analytics offering, which at that time was only practiced by a handful of consultants. The domain of analytics is very appealing to me because it is where we are asked to come up with solutions to problems using both analytical and creative thinking. In a way analytics is alsovery balanced: it is based on science, just as much as it relies on creativity. In almost any project you have to rely on both your experience andyourgut feeling. To be able to formulate concrete problem statements and think of potential solutions on a daily basis makes me really happy.That in addition to the frequent contact with specialists from other domains equals for me the obvious choice in terms of a dream job.”
Analytics in the driver seat
Sem very much enjoys his current project. “Today I work as a consultant at an IoT start-up that deals with predictive maintenance forhousehold appliances. We are building a solution to anticipate possible defects. Using an in-house developed IoT device – equipped with a set of sensors – we monitor the household appliance. The large amount of sensor data is used by the company to identify patterns that indicatea future defect. No easy task given the amount of data and the various external factors. It is my job to highlight andinterpret the relevant data. Playing such a central role in the definition of an end product is definitelya unique experience.”
Great potential, regardless of the techniques
It is not surprising that Sem understands the great potential of analytics. “Let’s take a look at customer analytics. The obtained insights can support a company to get better acquainted with their current and future customers. This knowledge can be used to proactively respond to the needs ofcustomers and prospects by offering personalised services. Ultimately, it helps strengthen the bond with the company. In addition, an organisation can also investigate other metrics to analyse,understand and improve their existing processes. This can then lead to increased efficiency and productivity. In short, analytics shows its added value in different areas.”
According to Sem, this doesn’t always have to include the most state-of-the-art machine learning techniques. “In essence, everything depends on the question, and how we can answer it using data, in a scientifically substantiated manner. If this is possible with the help of an appropriate visualisation, then this is just as valuable as the same outcome obtainedby applying an advanced method.”
Yet Sem nuances the power of data science: “People often expect that all data present within an organisation is valuable. This is however not always the case, since not all data contains the necessary insights fit for the current challenges of a company. One should always try to start a data project based on a specific question or problem, rather than on what data is available or what techniques you want to use.”