ABC seeks in-house data scientist

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ABC seeks in-house data scientist

Analytics strategy to boost customer experience.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation plans to launch its first enterprise-wide data strategy in the first half of next year, bringing together the dispersed analytics activities it currently conducts.

Development of the plan and design of an IT architecture to support it will be the responsibility of an analytics and data science manager, a new role the ABC has created to spearhead its big data push.

“We currently do data analysis very well across many different areas,” the ABC’s head of digital architecture and development Ciaran Forde told iTnews. “What does need some work is joining that together at an enterprise level.”

The ABC is looking for someone who is “up to date with the latest developments in the field of big data” and ideally experience working with SQL databases, statistical software and big data solutions like Hadoop, Hive and MapReduce.

Data analysis will focus on traffic and usage of the ABC’s suite of digital products – such as iView, a range of smartphone apps and live radio streaming  – and will aim to improve user experience and better informing the development of new products.

“The main questions are around how usable those current digital assets are and what changes need to be made to enhance that user experience and to become more relevant to our audience,” Forde said.

One of the first decisions the ABC’s in-house data scientist will be expected to advise on will be whether the organisation needs a centralised IT solution and data warehouse to process all of this new information, or whether it can tweak the infrastructure it already has.

“Right now we have a number of things in place, but they don’t give us that full cross section view of the data. Whether we need to centralise it all onto an enterprise IT platform or just keep it as is and overlay metadata on top will be a key consideration in the development of the strategy,” Forde explained.

Another key focus will be building business processes fast enough to act on information before it loses its value, he added.

“We are keen to derive insights from our data and then to action them quickly. If you don’t action them quickly then you will lose out on the value of that data.

“We are looking at a number of processes that will allow us to iterate quickly on a product. We do a bit of prototyping and some A/B testing to trial multiple variants of a product or a solution,” he said.

“There are a number of processes in place but none across the board, so we will potentially be looking at coordinating that into the future.”

However, the first challenge the ABC needs to overcome is attracting a high-quality candidate from what is an extremely tight skills market. Industry analysis suggests that education and training is not keeping up with increasing demand for big data skills, and Forde agrees.

“This is a very difficult skills set to hire at the moment,” he said. “Luckily we already have a lot of talented people already working for the ABC so this won’t be a one man or woman team.”

The role is currently advertised on the ABC careers website.

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