When you last went to Tim Hortons, you might have used their new app to get one step closer to a free coffee. The app allows consumers to digitally pay for their purchases, or redeem a coupon, in return for the chance to earn a free drink. To you, there was value in using a new app. To Tim’s, there was a significant amount of value in understanding the purchases you make. Such information helps them identify trends, and ways for the company to earn the most money from its consumers. To Tim Hortons, this information is worth more than a free coffee now and then.
Everyday, we see big players like Tim’s, 7-Eleven and Canadian Tire track Canadians’ purchasing habits. These companies use data science to streamline services, improve efficiencies, identify other product suggestions for customers, and even determine where to set up new shops.
Data science has become a huge component to running a successful business, but starting a data science project is not without risk, particularly for smaller companies. These risks can include time spent on building prototypes that might not work (a financial component that might be tough for some businesses to absorb), while some businesses might not know how to leverage the data they have collected. Meanwhile, Alberta has a talented pool of budding data scientists who are looking for a way to break into the industry.
It was with these challenges in mind that Cybera launched our free Data Science Industry Fellowship Program. In this program, which began last week, we pair six small to medium size company’s with teams of four emerging data scientists (fellows). These groups will collaborate to identify an industry problem that the company is facing, and find ways to solve it. This parallels well with how Cybera, over the last few years, has advised many organizations on how data science can help them compete in the growing digital economy.
During the fellowship program, the teams will work with data collected by the company partner. Cybera will bridge any existing gaps with support from our data science experts. By working in groups of four, each fellow brings different skills and backgrounds to the table. Some are post-graduates who have just defended their thesis, while others are experienced workers in the technical side of resource development, like oil and gas, and are in the process of re-tooling their skills.
During the four-week fellowships, the teams will hear from experts from organizations like PIMS and AMII, who will present on techniques that can be used to solve many of these problems. During the middle of the session, they will participate in a “sprint demo” that will give each group a chance to brainstorm and troubleshoot challenges they are facing with their project, and receive advice from their peers and other experts.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, this village will help raise a prototype application that will solve real-world problems! The partnering companies will be able to utilize this prototype to further grow and leverage its potential. Meanwhile, the fellows will have gained in-the-field experience that they can apply to other companies looking to leverage their data.
As Alberta shifts into a digital future, programs that bridge the future talent pool with thriving (and growing) companies will play an important role. Just like big corporations, our local business scene has an amazing opportunity to expand business and improve efficiencies through leveraging data sciences. As more companies come forward to participate in Cybera’s data science programs, we will continue to provide expert support to help them leverage the information that is right in front of them.