The rise of the citizen data scientist

Interview with Antti Myllymäki, VP, Head of AI, OP Financial Group

Organisations across financial services are striving to be more data-driven, but with a worldwide shortage of trained data scientists, companies are now turning towards the ‘citizen data scientist’ approach; equipping their existing data analytics professionals and experts from multiple business areas with the tools they need to become data scientists. To learn more about this developing trend, we spoke to Antti Myllymäki, Vice President and Head of AI at OP Financial Group.

“Citizen data scientists are about empowering employees to become more capable with their own data.”

There is growing talk of favouring citizen data scientists. Can you tell us more about the citizen data scientist concept?

Citizen data scientists are about empowering employees to become more capable with their own data. It’s about having suitable tools to access the data and create business value from it; it’s about knowing what kind of data is available; it’s about understanding the basics of data science and it’s about finding support from the data science community.

“Data analysis is an essential skill that one needs to progress in a career in banking.”

What’s the biggest hurdle banks have to overcome to get citizen data scientists to work as part of the business?

The world of banking has always had an appetite for analysing data. Data analysis is an essential skill that one needs to progress in a career in banking. Optimising data science analysis and processes for full-time data scientists has been more or less solved during the past six years. However, enabling hundreds of part-time citizen data scientists across the business to efficiently perform analytics functions poses a different challenge.

Are there any success stories you can tell us about?

The surge in interest in citizen data science totally surprised us. We decided to approach it from the ground up and wanted to provide something real to the analysts in business tribes. We organised easily accessible weekly events like data and tool clinics, technical ‘brown bag lunches’ for analysts and occasional half-day events where analysts demonstrated their work. The aim was to involve a handful of key people from across the tribes, but more than 600 participants ended up joined these events during H1/2021.

Antti Myllymäki is Head of Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence at OP Financial Group. Center of Excellence makes machine learning and advanced analytics happen at OP. Centre of Excellence works with all OP business lines identifying opportunities and developing AI solutions across the bank, insurance and wealth management. Prior to joining OP, Antti helped gaming companies, high tech companies and financial institutions to improve their competitive position with data, advanced analytics and machine learning.

Still hungry for more? Tune into MoneyLIVE Nordic Festival where Antti will be speaking in the fireside chat in Episode 3 on 29/9/21. Register your place here.

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