Art & Science Combined: Douglas Merrill On Humanizing Big Data Analysis
How does he do that with his team at ZestFinance? He doesn't just look for people who "speak data science." Diversity in your team is key to getting a holistic view of the data at your disposal. "Look for people who love data, and have their own—unique—way of looking at it," he says. A diverse team brings multiple different approaches to understanding and implementing data, he also argues. "Although there are statisticians and computer scientists, we also have psychologists, physicists and theoretical mathematicians," he tells Forbes. "Each of these disciplines views the world differently, brings different techniques and, hence, illuminates the data in different ways."
Since the core product of ZestFinance is data and numbers, but the core consumers are people, it makes sense to combine multiple disciplines in order to meaningfully convey information. Where computers need help pinpointing the significance of data-derived correlations, humans need help from computers to overcome their own personal biases surrounding those correlations. In his forward-thinking articles and keynotes, Merrill explores how companies can champion cultures of innovation within their ranks. And, as he explains in this article, part of that stems from incorporating the human element into science and math—and letting computers pick up where the humans leave off.