Data Science: Trusted Relationships & Scientific Exploration

Tech in Motion Orange County will explore Data Science through a tech panel on Wednesday, July 20th at 6 p.m. at The Cove at UCI Applied Innovation. The event will include speakers across different tech sectors applying Data Science today. Below is a guest blog from one speaker on this panel. Learn more and register for this free event today! REGISTER HERE.

Written by Dave Herman Vice President of Applied Science at Payoff, a leading financial wellness company, using science, psychology and technology to help their members reinvent their relationship with money and accelerate their journey to financial well-being. You can learn more about Payoff’s Science team here.

The new field of data science is rapidly enabling us to link massive amounts of seemingly unrelated ideas, and pool that new knowledge to potentially predict outcomes of virtually any situation.

How do data scientists do this?

To a great extent, we do what scientists have always done: We look for repeatable answers to the questions that surround us, by finding meaningful patterns in data. In the context of psychology, we look for patterns that allow us to understand and predict human behavior, behaviors that are expressions of beliefs, habits and desires.

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The process of finding relevant patterns in these big data sets has been exponentially advanced by the adaptation of more powerful computational infrastructures and machine learning algorithms.

As data scientists, we use our knowledge of algorithms, computational tools and a wide range of subject matter expertise from natural language processing — from the digital interpretation of human language to behavioral psychology to neuroeconomics. Through a combination of scientific method and machine learning, we develop an evolving and increasingly more powerful set of insights and methodologies to explore large data sets in the big-data clouds.

Interested in Data Science, Big Data, and other tech topics? Find an upcoming event centered around the hottest technologies in a city near you.

Fundamentally, data science is about finding patterns and information, hidden within data. Imagine a tiled mosaic, in which each tiny tile represents a unit of data. At close range, we’re limited in the information we can gather, focused around the attributes of individual tiles. But only when you absorb and compute on the entirety of the data, can you see the deeply insightful patterns. When we stand back, take it all in and see the collection of images and story at full scale, that’s when we learn from big data.

Someone who understands the sequential process of data science explores the data structure that holds this mosaic together using algorithms and their knowledge of math, science and statistics to guide this exploration, finding patterns. Without patterns, the data is useless. Once a pattern is found in the data, it becomes very meaningful and we’re able to learn important insights potentially applicable to wide segments of people.

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Our digital behaviors, including “likes” on social media, clicks to buy products, and measurements of physical and mental activity (Fitbits, accelerometers, questionnaires, MRI and EEG) all offer views into the core of human individuality, and allow data scientists to see humanity on a very large scale.

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Looking for a new role in Data Science? Check out our open data science jobs.

Data Science Uses the Most Powerful Machine Around

Working with information to determine how to tell a story at this vast scale, data science uses the most powerful machine around – the human brain – to develop algorithms that allow computers to take over the storytelling and point the information in the right direction.

Data can’t tell a story without a digital brain to organize the data and a human brain to contextualize it into human experience. Much of our digital lives is powered, at some level, by the decisions of people about what patterns matter, and what algorithms and experiences are needed and intended. It’s where digital interactions get the contextual IQ that transforms data into information, followed by experiences that actually connect with humans.

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Think of an algorithm as a means to make the complicated digestible, as it creates the filters/structure and statistical summarizations that enable specific points to come into focus. And like with everything else in life, what you get out of it is a result of what you put into it. While an algorithm creates the matching, its value is a result of it taking into consideration things we really care about.

So, what do we really care about? As it turns out, almost everything where human behavior is concerned. This is science, after all, and the iterative, empirical process of study can be applied to everything we humans do.

As we increase the application of applied data science across areas of focus, what matters is who or what is behind the algorithm. Data is one thing, but telling a story that captures the value in the data in a way that earns people’s trust is something different altogether.

Take for example, the “stable marriage problem.”

Say you have a large set of people X, who each desire someone from set Y, and vice versa. Here’s the task ahead of you, the ultimate cupid: Is it possible to optimally assign pairs where they are all “stable”? (Mathematically speaking, “stable” here means there are no people in both sets who would rather be with someone other than their current match.)

As it turns out, there is a smart algorithm for solving this problem. However! Creating the algorithm is just half of what a data scientist must do. They also need to know what information matters and what makes for a good match. The algorithm lets us do the matching, but it’s the features, traits, assessments and real-world knowledge that make that match effective.

Is that a little too George Orwell, dystopian nightmare for you, you say?

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Let’s look at eHarmony, for example, which is powered by an algorithm developed in part by Dr. Galen Buckwalter, co-author of this article. We all know couples who met online — people who would likely never have found each other otherwise. The most important decision in an adult’s life — who to choose as a partner — has been improved, thanks to applied data science and the intelligence of the human minds who pointed their emotional intelligence in the right direction, toward love.

Could there be a more profound use behind brains and algorithms working together?

The data — a long list of very specific attributes selected as appealing by an individual — leads to a match with someone who has chosen many of the same attributes. Then the humans make a date and get to decide if the connection will become more than an awkward dinner, albeit with a stranger with whom you share many attributes.

Some may call it unromantic and perhaps lacking in the serendipity we tend to assign to romance, but the scientific process is exceptionally effective, as is evidenced by the thousands of people who engage in this experience every day.

Data science in action is an algorithm that guides a user toward choices they would probably never have found without it. Given the seemingly infinite possibilities of a connected world with more than 7 billion people in it, matching us with what we want and need becomes increasingly valuable every day, as more and more data is collected.

This post was adapted from the original on Medium.com, “Data Science, Trusted Relationships and Scientific Exploration,” which you can read in full here.

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The Revolution: the Cloud & Multi-Channel Communication

Article written by Nick Newsom, Ytel CEO

As the world around us changes, we must adapt. The revolution of the Cloud has already changed the way companies do business, but it also applies to the most basic of human interactions for businesses: communication.

The way we communicate is enhanced and modified consistently through the technology, tools and resources made available to us. To satisfy the demands of consumers and new trends, businesses have to not only find their audience, but also communicate with them wherever they actively listen. Those using a multi-channel approach supported by cloud communications will be the front-runner of this exciting revolution.

Interested in finding a new role where you work with Cloud technologies? Apply now.

Let’s start with the Cloud.

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Cloud communications are Internet-based voice and data communications, hosted by third party service providers, accessible over the internet. Because you only pay for the services you use, it’s a much more cost-effective choice for businesses. It’s a more reliable and secure communication environment, with the cost-savings appealing to many businesses in the market today.

Take my business, for example. Ytel specializes in cloud-based communications solutions that service businesses worldwide. My team of engineers, developers, support staff, marketers and sales know all about the power of communication on a granular level… they live it on a daily basis.

Personally, I found the power of communication as a middle schooler when I received my ham radio license (KE6CZD) and discovered the world of Bulletin Board Systems (old, I know…). All that led to a career in communications that I am incredibly passionate about. I’m also a member of several organizations and executive boards in Orange County that fuel innovation and communication through technology and discovery.

While my team at Ytel builds, maintains, and distributes the software our customers want, we also enhance the experience by adding features and add-ons for their unique business models. In order to provide this level of satisfaction, there has to be a strong sense of understanding about what our customers need. This comes from a deep knowledge of the industries we work in, from lead generation to marketing and sales, to solar and call centers; we are fortunate in that the Ytel team is made up of individuals who come from these different verticals, so they know what pieces are missing from the way those businesses communicate with their customers.

You’ve got the cloud infrastructure on your side, and you need a strategy to attract and keep those valuable customers.

 

Let’s talk multi-channel communication.

A strategy that businesses (the smart ones, at least) use to engage with their customers in a modern, efficient way. The multi-channel approach is simple; you exist where your customer exists, and the communication channels used are based solely on their preferences. Multi-channel is all about giving customers a choice.

What better way to align yourself with prospects and customers than through the communication channels they already use? The goal behind multi-channel is to actively listen and engage with your customers, prospects, and leads, and to turn that listening into a productive interaction with clear steps forward. You’re taking all the noise of marketing and sales and turning it into action, and action into customer loyalty.

Encourage active listening by practicing what you preach. Maybe your customer wants to be contacted via email. Maybe they love the chat feature on your website. Or perhaps they crave human interaction over the phone. Knowing these preferences, and being able to segment them appropriately, is multi-channel done right. Active listening packs a huge punch for your business; all you have to do is listen and take action.

Multi-channel communication can:

  1. Increase brand recognition
  2. Build customer loyalty
  3. Grow and scale your business

Introducing message360°

It can be difficult and stressful for businesses to keep their communication channels organized, updated, and cohesive with their brand. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all those channels housed in one central location?

With the new message360° API, we’ve removed the need for multiple communication platforms by offering the four core communication channels in one API. Voice, text, email and direct mail, easily accessible in one API. message360° integrates with any web application, and removes the complexity of building.

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Check out Drips.com, a current user of message360° and discover how they successfully interact with thousands of customers through voice, text, and email drip campaigns.

With cloud infrastructure on your side, your business can function at a lower cost with more efficiency and scalability. A multi-channel communication strategy is just the cherry on top; you’ve laid the foundation with technology and you’re simply polishing the customer experience and improving your bottom line. With message360°, you get the power and security of the cloud and the channels your customers prefer, under one roof. It’s communication done right.

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