UK: The Age Of The Data Scientist – Data Changes Everything..

Last Updated: 29 March 2017
Article by Kent Mackenzie

Most Read Contributor in UK, August 2017

At some point in the late 1800's the creation of the industrial printing press led to what became known as 'the age of the editor' when suddenly as a society we could not consume all the text being created and had to find ways of editing what we were publishing and reading to make it meaningful.  Fast forward 100 years or so and the exponential growth and 'democratisation' of data is creating a new age – the age of the data scientist.

Now combine this new with the exponential growth in disruptive technologies, and enabling regulation (think PSD2 and Open Banking for those in FS) and the possibilities for 'disruption' across all industries is significant.  Indeed, we have already seen it in the likes of AirBnB, Google, Uber, and our very own home-grown unicorn SkyScanner, who all recognised that 'data changes everything', because data underpins everything, and technology can commoditise and present value in that data.

In financial services a huge opportunity exists for the sector to redefine itself – couple the richest and deepest sets of customer information with the vast amounts of open data available and think of the possibilities. For the organisation that gets it right a utopia could be achieved – the ability to truly understand and address customer needs, differentiate the products they build and service the markets they currently don't reach.

The good news for Scotland is that we have some of the world's top data scientists in our midst, backed up by globally-renowned academic expertise and some of the UK's most ambitious start-ups. The eco-system is absolutely buoyant at the moment, with new and innovative technologies and ways of working emerging all the time.

However, there is always more that could be done – the resources we have on our doorstep could be better used if more organisations understood the potential that lies within their data (and open data), and how to harness it.

In that spirt and against the backdrop of this new world, Deloitte is hosting Scotland's first-ever Datathon on Monday and Tuesday next week, as part of the DataFest17 festival. Lasting from mid-day on March 20 until the same time on March 21, the event will bring together Scotland's top data scientists and fintech entrepreneurs at our new Greenhouse facility in Edinburgh.  The Datathon will consider how data can be leveraged more effectively to create new products and services, and importantly how we can use data to support financial inclusion and support those that currently need but don't have access to basic financial services (1.5m adults in the UK, circa 38% of the world's adult population).

It couldn't come at a more apt time: there are a huge number of businesses which could benefit from turning the latent potential of their data into something transformative. This event could help them take that crucial first step forward.

You may be asking: what is a Datathon? Put simply, they are intense 24-hour workshops, modelled on hackathons, in which data scientists and industry 'revolutionists' turn information into knowledge. The competitors will compete to solve challenges in a high-octane environment, testing their ability to analyse data, visualise and present their findings, and develop a product proposition.

We're proud to say that among the event's speakers are some top names from the fintech industry: including Gavin Littlejohn, Founder of Money Dashboard; Steve Tigar, CEO at Money Dashboard; Ed Molyneux, Founder and CEO of FreeAgent and James Varga, CEO of The ID co. Each of them will talk about how they are using data in their businesses and what Open Banking will mean for the future of financial services.

There will also be various prizes on offer from our technology and industry partners for the winners, as well as mentoring from some of the Deloitte team. What we're looking to see from competitors is maturity and uniqueness in their insight, quality visualisations, and the feasibility of what a potential service or product offering could look like.

Importantly our Datathon is a fringe festival at DataFest17, an incredible festival of data innovation being run by The Data Lab. – there are plenty of other events to check out as well. The week-long festival takes place across Scotland on 20-24 March 2017.

We look forward to seeing you there – viva la data revolution!  #datachangeseverything

You may also be interested in:

Innovation is part of the fabric of Scotland – Fintech, an opportunity for Scotland

Banks shouldn't fear our Fintech revolution – they should embrace it

Planting the seed of business growth in the Deloitte Greenhouse

How do you create a culture of innovation in your business?

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