Once the leader of the analytics project or initiative has been identified, it’s time to put all the required skills in place.

Step 4: Get the right team together.

The ideal big data analytics team involves a number of skills that can largely be viewed in three broad perspectives – technology, data analytics and business. On the technology side, the right skills are required to work with big data capture (or extraction), storage, cleansing, analysis, and visualization. This also involves selecting, implementing, integrating and managing the right platforms, tools and technologies. A lot of this is likely to be done by the IT staff, but the drivers for technology decisions must originate from the business.

The usage of the technology to extract, merge and clean data would be done by a member of the analytics team. This does not require a wide range of technology skills, but it does need depth in a query language such as SQL and the ability to manipulate data using whatever functions and automation is available.

Analytics skills are applied to statistically analyse the available data and identify trends, and create mathematical models that can be used to extrapolate the trends into the future to come up predictions. This can go further, with sensitivity analyses and probability theory being applied to answer “what if” questions. This is done using statistical, optimization and simulation tools. The results are reported using visualization tools.

Experts in the business are required to provide the leading questions, prepare and clarify use cases, and provide functional direction and validation every step of the way.

The quality that is probably the most useful in generating business value out of all the various skills is perhaps to be able to understand data, models and results in the context of the business. Without this, it is always quite possible that interpretations and conclusions could be either misguided or even just incorrect.

The ideal data scientist would be one who is thorough with not only analytics but also a variety of tools that are used to implement it. In addition, he/she would have a good understanding of big data technologies as well, apart from a strong understanding of the business domain and processes. In practice, the candidates who would match this ideal may be few and far between, and for this reason the right team will probably consist of a small core team that involves and works with additional specialists in each functional area as required.

Apart from all this, at least one member of the team must be good at communicating internally within the team and externally with the business. It is very important that for acceptance of the model when it is ready of deployment the business users understand the usefulness of the results that it can give them.