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Thank you for your interesting questions. I would like to take this opportunity to exchange my opinions with you. I would also be more than happy to further discuss with you in person. If you are interested in a discussion, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you!
I received five questions of the data-driven approach. They addressed two aspects: business implications and translation into education.
A company’s data strategy is usually aligned with its overall strategy. The adoption of datadriven decision-making should help the company pursue its organization’s goals. However, sometimes, the use of data may change the organization’s goals. For example, a Dutch SME that I have worked with used to focus on differentiation strategy. After several data science projects, they noticed that the differentiation strategy is no longer a promising strategy. Based on the data analytical results, the company has altered its organizational strategy to focus. According to their own metrics, they have seen a remarkable business performance improvement. Some companies may enable new business models based on data. Some examples can be found in my inaugural lecture book.
With regard to SMEs, many owners or decision-makers are aware of the potential of data. However, they usually do not know if they have the “right” (relevant) data, what to do with data, and what kind of people they should hire. To me, they are too keen to analyze their data; they forget why they want to use the data. Therefore, as the data science project lifecycle suggests, I always commence with the identification of business questions. Very often, I encourage the entrepreneurs to consult their employees for the business questions; these employees are likely to raise the most practical and relevant business questions. Once they understand that their questions can be answered by the data, they are more willing to try out their first data science project. This initial try out is a critical movement to turn data into strategic assets.
Besides, the entrepreneurs should allocate time for employees to work on the data science project with data scientists for three major reasons: (1) The domain knowledge (including tacit knowledge) possessed by the employees is vital for the success of the data science project; (2) the entrepreneurs should learn to give commitment and support for adopting data-driven approach; (3) it demonstrates the urgency of using data for decision-making enterprise-wide and helps cultivate data-driven culture.
Regarding human resources, universities are the best place to find junior data-savvy leaders and data scientists. SMEs should not expect to find a “unicorn”; they should be more open to students and juniors. When I look at our students, they have unlimited possibilities.
Finance is deemed to be the innovators in digital transformation; a lot of “digital winners” are in Finance. This industry always responds quickly to new technologies and works in tandem with data. With the increased impact of machines (e.g., AI technologies) in this field, the competence of working with machines and demonstrating collective intelligence (human and machine) would be important. Solid financial knowledge and skills remain important, but what makes individuals more competitive to a company would be their attitudes towards technology adoption, life-learning capabilities, and data analytical skills.
In education, critical thinking and analytical skills have been always the underlying competencies. Along with the increased complexity of technologies and business in digital transformation, these two competencies will become imperative. In addition, digital competencies, such as data literacy, communication and collaboration, digital content man agement, and problem-solving, have been emphasized. In my inaugural lecture book, I mentioned the project ‘21st Century Skills’, in our Research Centre Business Innovation. This project identified necessary competencies and skills for students. How to translate these competencies into teaching activities can be further designed based on the specific disciplinary context. The incorporation of an informed learning approach could be interesting (Bruce, 2008).
i For more details, please visit: https://www.hogeschoolrotterdam.nl/onderzoek/projecten-en-publicaties/pub/the-new-foundationalskills-of-the-digital-ec/590de8ef-cdf3-497f-ad5c-024eeec68f9b/
ii Bruce, C. (2008). Informed learning. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries.
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