South Africa: Deloitte unveils School of Analytics

Deloitte reveals that South Africans are open to use and pay for automated financial advice
Deloitte reveals that South Africans are open to use and pay for automated financial advice
In a world where everything is digitised, business models are fundamentally changing to reflect the critical role of data.

In a world where everything is digitised, business models are fundamentally changing to reflect the critical role of data. However, businesses are faced with a talent scarcity when it comes to data scientists. In order to help address this, Deloitte has launched the Deloitte School of Analytics.

The school will give the market  access to critical skills training in analytics and data management, providing professionals and companies with the latest insights to enhance business and enable growth.

Werner Swanepoel, Deloitte Leader for Analytics in Africa, says the rise in demand for people with data skills far outstrips supply.

“Data is an organisational asset. But there are no specific local courses to take to become a data scientist. While mainstream universities are crafting specific programmes that cover some of the skills needed, there is no standard qualification in place. Organisations are starting to understand that a data scientist is not just someone who knows statistics or business intelligence, but has an entire set of core skills.”

These include data management (the ability to work and make sense of data assets), analytics modelling (the true analytics capability coming from actuarial, mathematical, and statistical skills), and business analysis (understand what all the data means in a business context).

“With the Deloitte School of Analytics, the organisation wants to create capacity not only for itself but also for the market to grow the industry. It is completely focused on creating the capabilities needed to extract business value out of data,” he says.

Yasaman Hadjibashi, Chief Data Officer at the Barclays Africa Group, highlights why in financial services data science  and a new breed of “data wunderkinds” (someone who has product management and commercial experience, technical expertise, design and customer experience skills) are growing in importance.

With the Barclays Africa group having millions  of customers across Africa, it is not difficult to understand the complexities involved with trying to connect with our customers on an individual intimate basis. However, the answer lies within the power of data and technology.

“Over the course of the last century banking has seen an evolution in the way it maintains relationships with its customers. Previously banks maintained trust and intimacy with our customers through face-to-face close interactions but through the big expansion of our business and  the growing digital revolution this relationship of trust has become harder to maintain. Data, for us, is the catalyst to help bring back this trust, closeness and connection with our customers with dynamic personalized customer experiences through the field of data science and latest open source data technologies.” she says.

Paul Swanepoel, a data scientist for Barclays Africa adds ‘There is still  a scarcity of data science talent and data wunderkinds both locally and abroad with the right set of commercial acumen needed in financial services” he adds.

For David Kitley, the Head of Operations for of Uber Sub-Saharan Africa, the organisation provides an example of the practical use of data on a daily basis to become an insights-driven business.

“Uber is very much a data-driven business. We are the technology that connects riders to drivers in the area. For us, it is all about harnessing data and selling that to our customers. Uber is focused on creating a quality user experience through the effective management and utilisation of big data.”

The importance of this is reflecting in the fast growth rate of South African cities that are outstripping that of international ones. In the three years since it launched in the country, Uber has created 2 000 work opportunities as a result of data use with Kitley expecting that number to grow to in excess of 15 000 by 2017.

According to Nanette Scott, Associate Director at Deloitte Analytics, the Deloitte Data Factory has been designed to do just that and address the shortage of data skills in the market.

“If we cannot find the skills needed, then why do we not grow them? Following an extremely rigorous recruitment process, the Data Factory took in 18 graduates in December last year. The two-year programme is designed to turn them in to data scientists and will see time split 80/20 between client work and ongoing learning,” she says.

Deloitte will also provide these graduates with mentorship programmes and will continually monitor and engage with them to be agile around their learning requirements. Deloitte plans a further intake of graduates in June and December this year, and annually thereafter.

Through initiatives like the Deloitte School of Analytics and the Deloitte Data Factory, Deloitte is showing its commitment to addressing the skills shortage around data scientists in the country.

Staff Writer