Accuracy in Analytics depends on understanding underlying cultural mechanisms
Former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Tip O’Neill famously said “all politics is local” when referring to the basic principles of his profession. In many ways, the same can be said of analytics. While the internet as a whole is sprawling and its user base massive, this seemingly singular entity is ultimately made up of thousands of different cultures and sub-cultures.
Similar to how a member of Congress wins re-election not by appealing to the nation but to his or her constituents back home, successful data science is less about deciphering the big picture and more about understanding the nuanced reasons why relatively small demographics generate the sorts of data patterns they do over time. To this end, there’s a certain element of anthropology involved in analytics.
Companies in Silicon Valley and other tech hubs around the world are acting accordingly. The decision to outsource analytics is becoming a more common one in these business circles. Rather than a matter of cost, it’s a matter of remaining relevant to a diverse spread of users.
In fact, tech companies in San Francisco and elsewhere are preferring to outsource analytics on an individual basis in order to appeal to a more talented pool of data scientists overseas. Rather than look for existing facilities to transfer duties to bottom dollar staff, businesses are offering enticing arrangements for independent contractors. These often include automatic payment via many international money transfer channels, scheduling freedoms, and access to cloud services for openers. If you are a top-level data scientist in China, India, or Sub-Saharan Africa, it is a good time to be open for business as a self-employed professional.
For tech business leaders getting inspired and are hiring data analytics specialists abroad, it’s critical to note the aforementioned geographical settings are themselves extremely broad generalizations of where the growth in internet users is its ripest. Within China, India, and the Sub-Saharan Africa are many dozens of sub-regions each with their own cultures.
Understanding underlying cultural mechanisms behind analytics and hiring specialists accordingly requires an appreciation for the following, which can vary depending on the region within a specific country:
Data derived from search terms and trending content inherently gets influenced by language. Language, in turn, is influenced by location, hiring data scientists in these locations important for companies interested in making sense of searches originating there. However, those living in a large country with the same language know all too well how differences arise simply depending on the region one was raised. For instance, a search term like “cherry pop” will likely mean two very different things depending on which part of the United States it originated. This, despite no distinct change in the language itself.
The various faiths of the world influence and impact believers in very different ways. These believers, in turn, make up a fairly large percentage of internet users and therefore accurate analytics has to account for how religion affects eCommerce, social media, and search engine behaviors. However, it’s once again worth warning against broad strokes made based on enormous institutions like countries and religions. Though Christians around the world are united in many ways as are Muslims, and the Hindus, the way in which these faiths are interpreted can vary drastically from place to place, once again emphasizing the critical role data scientists working remotely play in accurate analytics.
Lastly, the government will have a major impact on the way in which data patterns are generated in a given area. Administrations and regimes around the world are varied in their approach to policing online activity and restricting internet access. The way to maneuver through search engines, online shopping sites, and the internet in general in Beijing is different from the same activities in Barcelona simply due to the way in which web content is controlled in one place versus the other. Getting to the heart of why users are operating a certain way will often require an understanding of how the government in that part of the world functions. Again, the usefulness of local data scientists becomes clear.
All analytics is local. It’s an aspect of the trade which is worth learning sooner rather than later. This is true both for the prospective self-employed data scientists out there as well as the tech companies hiring them.