Winning the Competition with Data Science and Machine Learning

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Winning the Competition with Data Science and Machine Learning


Patterns are inherent in everything we can see, feel, touch and taste. The reverse is also true for the things that are incorporeal too, an assertion which may be weird and far-fetched for an average mind. In a semiconductor laboratory in one of the universities I attended, the Professor in charge of the Laboratory explained the concept of sensors to detect smells of vegetables, for example, onions. About 90% of the class did not understand the whole concept but it works. At a point during the lecture, sensing our confused minds, he jokingly said, “you have to be either a witch or wizard to understand”. Sneering with laugher as he proudly looked at the long linear algebraic equations used in explaining the concept, he said one day you will understand if you think hard enough. In the ensuing while mused over the theories and concepts, I personally concluded that, it is all about patterns based on mathematical derivatives.  I will later write an article on artificial intelligence systems which uses electronic nose for both security applications and industrial purposes but now let us focus on becoming a winner with Machine Learning technologies in any field of business.

Taking advantage of data science

The story of a janitor – trial and error:

In his desperation, he relied on data. He sampled data of the basketball pitch and things used in the game of basketball by using measuring tools such as level, measuring tapes, and ladder to collect the data. He used plastic cones to check the effectiveness of the line from the hoop to the three-point line. He used a table as a reference point of the three-point line. Finally, the pressure of the basketball was checked. With all this information at hand, he transformed the sampled raw data into a mathematical model. With the application of his derived mathematical model, the story changed! Three things were clearly evident after the application of the model.

  • The outcome of his “throw ins” changed. He never missed a ball. The application of data science changed the losses to gains.
  • The application of knowledge will change the opinion of your business competitors.
  • Applying the data science to your business can change your business outlook. It will cause you to swim with Sharks in the deep waters of business recognition.  You will be the best or ranked among the best.

Real life scenarios in African Business setups

When I visit shopping centres in Accra, I see the clear need to deploy data science techniques to improve the outcomes of businesses, including the management of personnel and positioning of products to improve sales. On many occasions when I shopped at the Accra Shopping Mall and purchased a large quantity of bottled water for events, I left the supermarket without anyone asking for my contact information and the reason for the purchase. With such a high-volume purchase, it is easy to get details of any customer with the discount bait!

Although, there are many simple ways of collecting customer data, the discount bait is one of the commonest!  Data collection from customers can help businesses with the main purpose of transforming these raw data into useful information which translates into insightful winning stakes like the janitor in the short story sketch.

Some lessons from European Business

Some European supermarkets have mastered the placement of products so that upon entering a particular shopping outlet one spends less time and also enjoy the shopping experience. For instance, I know where to pick sardines in any Aldi or Spar shopping centre in UK, Germany, Austria or Holland. There is a science behind the position of these items and the psychology behind it work in a subtle manner.  

In some of these shopping centres with multiple outlets data collection is every important. The collected data enables them to target customers with specific adverts based on historic patterns. Customers are therefore motivated by a small discount to purchase a card which their Business Intelligence units use to prepare campaigns and targeted advertisements.

Apart from these benefits, the card, which is linked to a database, can be helpful in diverse ways. For instance, supposing the main warehouse of these retail outlets wants to distribute their products, relying on historic data and buying trends of consumers as well as spatial information of these outlets, products can be distributed easily.

In conclusion, to be a winner in this era, our game plan must always be robust and ruthless to aim at only winnings. To achieve this purpose, our business strategies must go beyond the normal strategies to include leveraging on Data science and Machine Learning. The patterns hidden in any data for any given situation could be harnessed and used to predict future likely outcomes with near perfection.  Through the application of this knowledge in our businesses, we can curb errors that can lead to the collapse of businesses, deaths, accidents due to human errors or inconsistent behavioural patterns in humans.

Author: Benjamin Mensah

Member: Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana

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