AI Business recently got the chance to speak to Charles Givre, Senior Lead Data Scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton.
Booz Allen Hamilton is a major American management consultancy firm, with 80 offices and 22000 members of staff through the US and over 100 years of service behind them.
Charles Givre is a Senior Lead Data Scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton where, for the last six years, he has worked for various government clients in analytic roles. For the last two years, Charles has been part of the management team for one of Booz Allen Hamilton’s largest analytic contracts, where he was tasked with increasing the amount of data science on the contract – both in terms of tasks and people.
Charles will be speaking at The AI Summit in San Francisco on 28-29 of September, where he will deliver his keynote on ‘Taking Analytics to the Next Level: Strategies for Adding AI to Your Analytics Toolbox’.
With the event fast-approaching, we caught up with Charles to find out his thoughts on the impact of AI on the enterprise as a whole, and how he is taking steps within Booz Allen to change the cultural approach to the technology.
Charles Givre of Booz Allen Hamilton
Charles believes that AI will have two main impacts on business as a whole. He explains them in simple terms:
“Firstly, it will enable businesses to better understand their business environment and ultimately make better decisions. Secondly, I believe that the combination of AI, machine learning and data science will enable massive improvements in overall efficiency which will enable humans to do tasks that actually require human thought”.
But Charles recognises that these improvements to business strategy and efficiency are easier said than done. He cites a “lack of understanding” at the top level as a key obstacle to overcome:
“From my point of view, the main challenge to adopting AI technologies is a lack of understanding at the managerial and decision-maker level about what the capabilities of the various technologies are and how to best use these technologies within their business”.
There is a solution to this problem, though – education. It’s something that Charles is implementing at Booz Allen:
“The solution to this problem is that managers need to become data literate and towards that end, I have been working within my firm to develop a number of seminars geared towards senior decision makers to help them become data literate and enable them to truly understand what is out there”.
Like many AI thought-leaders, and particularly his fellow data scientists, Charles pinpoints data itself, or specifically the data preparation, as another key challenge businesses face when looking to apply AI:
“Study after study shows that data scientists spend between 50%-90% of their time preparing their data. To me this is unacceptable. I suspect that in large part, AI is exciting and interesting, whereas data engineering is not and hence it doesn’t get the resources or attention that it needs. In my view, the best data scientists and analysts also are very good at preparing data efficiently, and when I teach data science classes, I spend more time than most on this aspect of data science”.
“Ultimately, getting back to the idea of education, I believe that data analytics can benefit nearly every profession, and I’ve worked to expand data analytics training programs within my firm in the hopes of expanding the use of data science across multiple markets”.
When we asked Charles about his AI strategy at Booz Allen in the short and long term, his answer was very clear: “Come and hear about it at my talk at The AI Summit!” He expands on this with an insight into his keynote:
“Seriously, my strategy centres around educating both managers and analysts in data literacy. Towards that end I have developed comprehensive training programs in all aspects of data analytics that are targeted towards working professionals in specific domains. I believe that as the overall workforce becomes more familiar with data and its uses, we will see massive gains across the board”.
In line with his take on education, Charles believes that a change in cultural approach is crucial for an enterprise to embrace AI. He explains this in terms of data science:
“Data science”, he asserts, “is a culture not just a research methodology”.
“It is a new way of using technology to solve difficult problems. In order for large enterprises to embrace it they really need to adopt the culture of using data throughout their operations”.
Charles points out that data science also means that enterprises will have to change the way they approach IT:
“As an example, when I started as an analyst at Booz Allen six years ago, it was very unusual for analysts to write code in Python. Our clients typically viewed this as software development and outside the scope of work for our engagements. Today, knowing how to code in Python is almost a given for the majority of our analytics staff. Also, relating to IT, is that security models are going to have to change. Security officers are going to have to accept the fact that analysts cannot limit themselves to Excel and are going to want to install software such as Python, R, TensorFlow etc on their work machines”.
Charles concludes by sharing his thoughts on the long-term future of AI in his industry – and how academia feeds into this:
“I believe that management consultants, in addition to business expertise, are going to have to have a solid understanding of how to apply AI to their clients’ problems. Hopefully, more and more business schools will include AI and data literacy in their curricula”.
At The AI Summit in San Francisco on 28-29 September, Charles will deliver his keynote ‘Taking Analytics to the Next Level: Strategies for Adding AI to Your Analytics Toolbox’.
He will be joined at the event by fellow CxOs from the world’s leading enterprises and the most exciting AI software developers, gathering to explore the huge opportunity that AI presents the management consultancy industry, and many more industries besides.
To find out more, and to register to attend the event, visit: theaisummit.com