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Interview with: Dr. Mike Kim, CTO and Co-Founder of Outlier.ai

Written by Corinium on Sep 9, 2019 7:37:50 PM

Interview Insights Data and Analytics

Tell us about your experience in working with the data analytics community at Outlier? Why do you like working in this space?

From the very beginning of Outlier, I have really enjoyed collaborating with others in the data analytics community. Data 


analytics professionals have consistently, quickly, viscerally, and resoundingly found resonance with our mission at Outlier, and that has been tremendously encouraging and rewarding. The space is exciting because automating data analysis can save organizations a huge amount of time and energy, and fundamentally alter the way analytics teams operate.

What are some of the common roadblocks you’ve helped your clients work through?

It is actually possible to analyze billions of data points overnight without a team of 100s of data analyst. Folks are generally shocked at the amount of raw data Outlier can analyze overnight to find meaningful insights for the next day. We call this the “too good to be true” moment. Beyond overcoming this initial scepticism , we have had to help clients really understand our operating paradigm – what Outlier does and does not do. But once we clear these roadblocks, it is fun to see the transformations that happen in analytics organizations.


Where have you seen CDAOs deliver the most significant ROI within the business? (Or the most value to the business)

When CDAOs are able to enable faster, better, data-driven decisions throughout their organizations, the ROI is tremendous. In particular, when CDAOs can find quick wins, that can be deployed broadly across their organization, that help multiple teams become more proactive in their understanding of their areas of the business; this is going to immediately drive better decisions and directions. Outlier insights can add big value with a single insight, like helping to find systemic fraud that saved a credit card issuer millions of dollars per week, or incremental value that helps a marketer optimize their advertising campaigns, which could save thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.


What business challenges are CDAOs best positioned to solve for the C-suite? How can they show ROI for the business?

The lowest hanging fruit is anywhere that already has good data ready to be turned into insights and decisions. Typically, we have found this to be true in digital marketing efforts, and operational use cases that already have monitoring in place. In both of these cases, the ability to become proactive and understand their ever-changing data creates a tremendous competitive advantage. In these cases, the ROI is usually easy to calculate as well: How much money/time was saved by these insights? How many new opportunities were found? How much were they worth?

Beyond that, even when data isn’t readily available, anywhere that strategic decisions are being made; if a CDAO can be an advocate, coach, supporter of data-driven decision making, the entire organization runs more effectively. While the ROI is harder to calculate, this level of impact is too important to be neglected.


How has the CDAO toolkit evolved and where does Outlier fit within that?

The CDAO toolkit has been constantly improving in every dimension: data gathering, data storage, data visualization / querying / reporting. Outlier represents a new dimension in that toolkit: automated analysis. Instead of thinking about how to get better answers (where better might be faster, deeper, more usable), we’re thinking about how to get better questions: What should we be looking for? What are we missing?


What project has been the most rewarding for your team this year?

We are continually working on improving the variety and quality of automated analysis that Outlier performs. One particular improvement that was really rewarding for us was around our ability to automatically detect subtle, but important, data quality issues for our customers.


What keeps most Chief Data & Analytics Officers up at night?

Not having enough people to get all the work done. Hiring (and relatedly, training existing team members) is consistently one of the hardest problems that all CDAOs face. Over 59% of us acknowledge this as the biggest challenge based on the recent Gartner CDO Annual Survey.


What major disruptions are on the horizon that CDAOs should start strategically preparing for now to stay ahead?

Most organizations are already at the point where they are struggling to keep up with the data that they already have, and on the horizon (if not already here) we will have data coming from more sources, about more things, at a dramatically higher rate and overall volume. At some point, if we are not able to analyze all this data, what value are we truly getting from collecting, storing and visualizing all this data? None. Scaling the data and analytics functions within companies in response to this is going to be critical in making the investment in all of that data worthwhile. And while this has been a problem for a while, the disruptive element is going to be in how much faster the problem is going to get worse.


The CDAO Community is still in its infancy compared to many other C-suite positions. What value do you feel a face to face peer experience like the Chief Data & Analytics Officers, Fall event bring to the community?

Events like these provide a lot of value, but I will highlight two particular elements: networking (i.e., finding out that you are not alone in the challenges that you’re facing, and those challenges are not unique), and education (i.e., learning about tactics, strategies, and technologies that have worked, and not worked, from your peers).


How does Outlier’s solutions give your clients a competitive advantage?

Outlier is able move analytics teams from being reactive to being proactive: identifying issues before they become problems, and discovering new opportunities that were in the data all along waiting to be surfaced. Think about the way a typical analyst starts a project, you have a hypothesis you are trying to prove or disprove. What if there was no hypothesis or preconceived bias? What if you just let the data speak for itself. Outlier provides this benefit continually: every day, every week, every month our customers continue to find new insights to drive their businesses forward. In our increasingly competitive world, with consolidation happening all the time, organizations that are able to capture these advantages will end up with a compounding data advantage.

For fun, tell us about the company culture at Outlier and why people love to work with your team.

We have worked hard on our culture, and are proud of what we have managed to build together. We pride ourselves on being a diverse, inclusive, collaborative, and driven team; that also recognizes that we are all people first. One of my favorite team building exercises that we do is our quarterly volunteer service event, when we partner with local non-profit agencies and work with them to improve the community that we work in.


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