Building a team to harness the power of data in transport


As a key strategic partner, we guided a major public transport organisation through the process of adopting a data-led business approach. This initially involved demonstrating the benefits of predictive analytics and machine learning via a successful proof of concept and the creation and rollout of an advanced, predictive catering tool. Once we had helped the client successfully demonstrate the power of a data science-led approach, we led recruitment to build a world-class team in-house.

The Challenge

Data is fast becoming the lifeblood of industry and government, powering evidence-based, up-to-the-minute decision-making and enabling the essential efficiencies for an organisation to compete and thrive. Any organisation considering harnessing the power and value of their data by building a data science team needs to negotiate a set of essential steps to ensure they get maximum impact from what will be a significant investment. With no experience in this field, the client turned to Smith Institute, and with our help rapidly set up an expert team of machine learning engineers, data scientists and a data science leader.

The Solution

First, an organisation needs evidence that its data has sufficient quality to potentially have a positive impact on the business. Our client had taken this first step by allowing our team to demonstrate how machine learning could extract value from their data. Our subsequent development of a data-driven sales forecasting tool had already been integrated into their existing systems.

Once confidence in the data is established, the next step is to decide the composition of the team. For our client to build a modern data science team from scratch in a well-established organisation, they required not only an understanding of the right composition of technical skills and data expertise, but also insight into the attitudes and abilities the new team would need to integrate into the business.

Hiring the best technical minds is a great start, but a successful data science team also needs the ability to proactively innovate and identify new opportunities in the business. It needs strong communicators who can demonstrate the benefits of a data-driven culture and ensure the tools they develop are effectively integrated into the organisation.

The Smith Institute is a leader in data science innovation across a wide range of industries with in-depth experience of recruiting experts of the highest calibre. We were therefore well placed to provide the necessary framework into which our client could build its team. We worked with the client’s digital team leaders to assess current capabilities, identify skills gaps and help define the hiring strategy and criteria.

The final step was the recruitment process itself, where the support we were able to provide through reviewing applicants, conducting technical interviews and making hiring recommendations gave the client the confidence they needed to recruit their new data science team members.

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The Result

Our client’s new data science team is now up and running. A team of technical experts ideally suited to our client’s business environment. Their mathematical and data engineering skills are already beginning to make an impact on the business, ensuring innovation, communication and systems integration inform the next stage of our client’s digital transformation journey.

We maintain a strategic partnership with the client, offering ongoing support and expert guidance as the in-house team becomes operational.

If you would like support to make more effective, data-driven decisions, get in touch.

A brilliant project to be involved in, which is showcasing not only the power of AI, but also the benefits of making the actions it suggests explainable to build trust in the results and develop confidence in using them.
Dan Hibbs
Senior Business Intelligence Manager

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