Tuesday 18th June 2024

    From the Editor's Desk

    Avoid ML Failures by Asking the Right Questions

    In our collective decades of experience building, leading, and studying companies’ machine learning (ML) deployments, we have repeatedly seen projects fail because talented and well-resourced data science teams missed or misunderstood a deceptively simple piece of the business context. Those gaps create obstacles to correctly understanding the data, its context, and the intended end users — ultimately jeopardizing the positive impact ML models can make in practice.

    We have discovered that small mistakes and misunderstandings are much less likely to cascade into failed projects when development teams engage with colleagues on the business side and ask enough questions to deeply understand the process and the problem at hand. Asking questions might seem like a simple step, but that might not be part of a company’s, team’s, or an industry’s culture. Appearing to be in command of all the information needed may be one of the ways employees signal competence in the organization. And while data scientists might possess technical mastery, they can lack the soft skills to reach a deep, accurate mutual understanding with business partners.

    At the same time, business partners often hesitate to ask questions themselves and don’t necessarily know what information or context would be helpful to share with a data science team. It’s hard work on both sides to have the kinds of interactions that allow everyone to surface and question assumptions, and identify the most important elements of business context.

    Continued here


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