IBM Cloud

The Elite Team: Helping lead the data scientist’s journey

In October 2017, IBM tapped Dr. Susara van den Heever to join its Elite Team—a newly assembled SWAT-like squad of top data scientists. The team’s mission? To provide hands-on, free-of-charge advice and expertise on data science to IBM clients around the world.

The Elite Team gives IBM clients everywhere free access to the knowledge and talents of these highly skilled experts. For companies eager to boost their analytics game, the Elite Team offers an invaluable resource. But, as van den Heever, a Data Science Practice Leader at IBM, explains, the real work of data science goes beyond mere analytics.

“It’s not just analyzing data. It’s about laying the foundations of an information infrastructure,” says van den Heever. “Data science is all about making decisions—finding the next best step.”

That’s a significant challenge, of course.  Companies are leaning heavily on data scientists to extract value from the growing mountains of data that their businesses generate every day. It is estimated that up to 20 percent of data generated globally will be considered critical to our daily lives by 2025.

That means helping companies unpack dense machine-generated data to uncover nuanced sales trends or glean valuable insights about shifting customer demographics. Businesses can then use these actionable insights to plot or refine their current and future strategies.

The Elite Team’s goal is relatively simple, according to van den Heever. “We help clients cut through the complexity and move forward with their AI journeys.” They accomplish this by collaborating with clients on site, building and delivering models that can lead to significant business gain. Need to build a model to mine a micro-focused data stack? The Elite Team can help pull it off—and empower teams to do it on their own the next time.

“It’s a team effort,” van den Heever says. “We’re focused on client success. Success is measured by how quickly clients can start reaping measurable benefits by applying data science in their business to make better, faster and smarter decisions.”

Elite Team members are experts in data science disciplines, such as machine learning, data engineering and decision optimization, as well as in applying data science across a range of verticals—finance, healthcare, supply chain/logistics and many others.

And the team is eager to share its expertise, insights and breakthroughs on IBM’s open-source data science platform.

“Many of our contributions will be made public to the data science community,” says van den Heever. “Open source means anyone can make a contribution in the AI domain and the rest of the world can build on that. That’s how innovation happens—and because of open source, it’s happening much faster.”

This new elite squad complements our Cognitive Business Decision Support service line in IBM Services, which provides consulting, advisory and implementation services to help clients apply deep analytics and AI to core business challenges and processes.