Published: 15 October 2015
Another fantastic installment in our exportBI Q&A feature bringing you face-to-face with some of the brightest, most successful and inspiring Business Intelligence professionals and entrepreneurs who have Caribbean heritage or are based right here in the Caribbean. These features of influential and impressive Business Intelligence talents will form part of our monthly exportBI blog feature where we ask eight (8) questions to gain more insight into their career and journey as a Business Intelligence Professional. We hope you will enjoy reading their stories and they will leave you inspired and invigorated to start your Business Intelligence career or take your existing career to the next level.
Meet Arvel Grant - The Data Segmentation Strategist
For this month's feature, we have the bright, inquiring and data savvy Arvel Grant. Arvel is a analytics and segmentation guru who has worked in Telecommunications and Banking industries for almost a decade building reports, analytic and segmentation models that are still part of the integral day to day operations of these large multinationals.
A famous quote by John Naisbett says "we are drowning in information but starved for knowledge" and of the many interactions I have had with Arvel, I am always amazed at the depth of knowledge he can so effortlessly share in a world where data and information would appear to move faster than the speed of light. Quite possibly, the curse of a curious mind you should be ready for the off-loading of Arvel's thoughts if you are ever to engage him in conversation about topics he is passionate about but I must admit, you will be glad you did and will leave the conversation feeling smarter and almost guilty that you didn't think up those ideas yourself.
Arvel is a strategist and you will always find him sharing ideas or thinking of the next big one. He is passionate about data and solving problems that we sometimes overlook or take for granted but Arvel will formulate an action plan and is never short of ideas on how to solve these problems. We are super excited to have Arvel as our BI Blog Feature for this month and we picked his ever ticking brain to answer our eight questions below.
" Pay attention to the trends and technologies in BI and related fields – everyone is talking about Big Data and Data Science "
~ Arvel Grant
1. How did you get into the Business Intelligence field?
Up until the final year of my BSc. in Computer Science and Electronics I wasn’t sure which area of Computer Science I really wanted to pursue at a deeper level. In my final semester I took an Information Systems course and the lightbulb went off. While learning about information systems and how they were being used to solve problems in business, medicine, governments and on the web I was sure I wanted to spend as much time as I could extracting insights from data.
I applied to pursue a Masters degree in Management Information Systems immediately after I finished the Bachelors. I didn’t want to pause. Fast forward to the final year of my Masters program and a telecoms company came to my campus recruiting graduates for their Technical and IT departments. I went to the interviews and found that they were mainly looking for application developers, network engineers and database admins. At the end of my interview they asked if I was interested in any of those roles and I replied “I am sure I can perform in all those roles but my passion is data analysis and information systems. If you let me work with your data I guarantee you that my output will be 200% higher than in any of those other roles. I started as a Data Warehouse Specialist at the company a few weeks later”.
2. What is your area of expertise?
My area of expertise is Analytics. I love exploring new datasets and I have always had an eye for trends and a mind that always asks Why. Together they have helped me quickly understand new data from various domains (finance, insurance, telecoms, etc) and drill into the data while separating the outliers from the true trends and insight.
3. Who are some of the companies you have worked with?
I have worked with two organizations in several different capacities over the past eight years. I have worked as a Business Intelligence/Reporting Developer with Sagicor Bank which was Pan Caribbean Financial Services at the time. I have also worked as Data Warehouse Specialist, Information Systems Manager, Data Analysis Manager and now Segmentation Manager with Digicel Jamaica.
4. What is your greatest BI achievement to date?
My greatest achievement thus far is not directly in the Business Intelligence field but it is heavily data and analysis driven. In my current role as Segmentation Manager, I am tasked with analyzing data and using it to move our business towards segmented (niche) products instead of mass market offers. In my ten months on job so far, I’ve been able to perform the analysis, design, development and launch of more than one product per month. The rapid growth of the Segmented product portfolio has been my greatest achievement.
5. What are your 5 year goals?
In the next two years, I will have mastered programming in Python & R. I have seen where both are excellent tools for data analysis and I have challenged myself to learn and master both. In five years, I will either be consulting on BI/Big Data projects around the world or I will be CEO of my own data-driven tech company.
6. What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the BI industry in the Caribbean today?
Generally, there is a limited appreciation for the value of data and how BI can be leveraged. As a result, companies have not invested enough in:
- developing or acquiring robust information systems and
- hiring trained BI personnel or training internal resources for BI roles.
Too many of our companies tend towards having someone in IT running SQL queries or retrieving data by whatever means and that is their “business intelligence”. Typically, it is just operational or sales reporting wearing the business intelligence label. Business Intelligence should:
- drive management and executive decision making
- provide a complete view of the organization and
- support forecasting and trend analysis.
Many of our organizations are not currently meeting any of these objectives with their “BI” due to limited investment. To fix this we have to expand the understanding of what BI can do for our organizations and we have to develop the human resources to take on these projects or roles as they arise – they inevitably will.
7. What is your advice to someone wanting to get into the BI field?
Pay attention to the trends and technologies in BI and related fields– e.g. these days everyone is talking about Big Data and Data Science so you should be sure to find out what they are and how they are related. Also, ensure you are exposed to and have working knowledge of the various:
- Databases (mysql, Oracle, Hadoop, etc.)
- Analysis tools (Tableau, SAP Business Objects, Excel, SPSS, etc.)
- Skill-sets (programming - SQL, R, Python, etc)
which are being used to get intelligence from business data. Lastly, subscribe to BI and Analytics blogs, magazines and journals to start learning about the field. I visit these blogs and magazines daily to find out whats happening in the industry.
8. What do you do for fun when you are not working on BI projects?
These days I spend most of my free time reading about technology or watching football. I’m a dedicated Manchester United supporter so I watch ALL their games and even their youth teams.
Arvel Grant's Bio
Arvel Grant is a seasoned Business Intelligence Professional, specialising in analytics, data strategy and segmentation. He can be found writing Tech articles for Wealth Magazine, playing football or watching his favourite team (Manchester United).
Want more? Get Social with Arvel Grant!
LinkedIn: Arvel Grant LinkedIn
About the author: Raquel Seville [@quelzseville] is a Business Intelligence Professional, SAP Mentor, BI Evangelist, Founder: exportBI | Co-Founder: eatoutjamaica. To find out more, please visit her about me page.