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Team up with our Data Scientists!

Team up with our Data Scientists!

Introducing, in the red corner, a 10-year VodafoneZiggo veteran, the heavyweight champion Lead Data Scientist, the baron of business value, Michiel van Rijthoven! And in the blue corner, our challenger, a rising star in the VodafoneZiggo firmament, the Doctor of Data, Xiaowen Lu.”

If data science were anything like a boxing match, we might have introduced Michiel and Xiaowen along those lines. After all, although they are both data scientists, they’re just about as different as people can be. But at VodafoneZiggo, they not only fight on the same team, they share an ambition: to unlock the value of data within the business, for the business, and in cooperation with the business. So that the business can leverage those insights and algorithms to better serve its millions of customers. When asked why they pursued a data science career at VodafoneZiggo, this is what they answered.

1. Because it’s rocket science

Michiel: “Everything we do is outcome-driven. Data science initiatives must deliver business value. That said, we only take on projects that entail advanced techniques. If a business goal can be accomplished through simpler means, we’re out of the picture. So it’s not science for science’s sake, but we are very much into rocket science.” Xiaowen: “It’s not your typical science lab, but experimenting is encouraged. Experimentation drives innovation. All our projects must benefit our colleagues and clients, and if you can demonstrate your idea can deliver that, feel free to roll with it.”

2. Because everything is in place

Xiaowen: “VodafoneZiggo is a big, international company, and you work with all the types of data you associate with an organization of our scale. Think technical data, but also commercial and financial datasets. That isn’t to say it’s a free-for-all data playground, because we obviously adhere to strict (GDPR) regulations. Secondly, we have a highly advanced computational platform that is continuously updated, so you always have the technological edge.” Michiel: “Everything you want or need as a data scientist is in place. Plus: advanced data analytics is one of VodafoneZiggo’s focal points, and that’s reflected in our budgets and mandate. The drive to really push the advanced analytics envelope, combined with our successes, are two of the main reasons why I expect the role of data science to keep growing.”

3. Because projects have a major impact

Xiaowen: “I’m currently working on a project that will make it much easier to maintain our network. As you can imagine, the VodafoneZiggo network is both huge and complex. The topology is composed of hundreds of thousands of interacting components. Because we could only monitor the top and bottom network layers – the highest being the signal we send to our client, and the lowest the signal a client receives – it used to be very difficult to pinpoint the ‘culprit’ when issues arose. In a way, everything between the top and bottom layers was a black box.” Michiel: “So we said, ‘let there be light’ and created a way to analyze the status of other components, like amplifiers, switches, et cetera. By extracting data from the top and bottom layers and using pattern recognition, we can now identify the weakest link.”

4. Because we don’t work in an ivory tower

Michiel: “We always work in tandem with the business. Think of operational stakeholders, but also departments that safeguard customer privacy or zoom in on reputation management. We work in Agile teams with product owners, data engineers and colleagues who work in the field. Take the project we just mentioned. To ‘mature’ our predictive algorithms, we not only looked at the data from the top and bottom network layers, we also extrapolated existing business knowledge. By combining root cause analysis level data with years of operational insights, we are getting better and better at predicting the specific causes of network issues.” Xiaowen: “To illustrate just how close we are to the business: I accompanied our maintenance engineers on their rounds, to verify the accuracy of our predictions.”

5. Because we step up, team up and open up

Xiaowen: “As Michiel pointed out, at VodafoneZiggo you can really step up to the technological plate. That’s a big motivator, but what attracts me even more is the diversified, international setting, and the fact that you never fly solo. There are two data scientists assigned to each project, so you can always exchange ideas with a peer.” Michiel: “To foster a sense of community, we also make sure the whole team works together at the same location at least two days a week. And on Fridays, we ‘officially’ share our experiences with the entire team, often over drinks. To cap it off, Vodafone also employs data scientists in many other countries, so bouncing ideas off of international colleagues is always an option!”

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