Media Release – Monday19th February, 2018 
Soltius, one of New Zealand’s largest teams of SAP consultants, has appointed Habib Baluwala as Data Scientist for its Analytics team as the company increases its push to help customers gain more value from their data.

Baluwala will be working with Soltius customers to help them convert data into actionable insights to help solve business problems and grow their businesses.

Andrew Roberts, GM – Practice for Soltius New Zealand, says Baluwala is an exciting addition to the Soltius New Zealand team, as the technology consulting company pushes into predictive analytics after years of delivering analytics and reporting solutions.

“We’ve had a history of delivering analytics and historical reporting to customers. The idea of bringing in predictive analytics, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning aspects to our customers through Habib and the people we’ll bring under Habib, in the future is really exciting,” Roberts says.

Baluwala, who is Auckland-based, dubs his role a mix of data engineer, mathematician and story teller, using technology to gain the insights which can be communicated to executives to help improve business outcomes.

“For example, a customer service organisation might be getting thousands of calls a day, but most of the time the voice of the customer is lost. How do you convert that voice into text and then use the text to do analysis to see what the important topics are for customers?” Baluwala says.

“Similarly, within the predictive space you have customers who have years of sales data but want to know how sales are going to be in future. Whether a customer is going to stay with them and so on. In those cases, we can convert the data into insights and provide the customer with a guide to the path they should follow.”

Baluwala has previously worked for IRD New Zealand and the University of Auckland. He has also held roles in India and the UK, where his work included designing solution for the early detection of lung cancer.

Baluwala’s appointment comes as demand for data scientists and the insights they offer grows – and the volume of data being collected by companies grows.

Data Science

2018 insights/trends from Baluwala

1. Chatbots will usher a new paradigm in communications for an increasingly demanding consumer base.

Baluwala says one of the dominant trends next year will be in the way companies communicate with customers, with chatbots gaining increasing dominance. Most companies have been using call centres and other mediums to interact with customers, but chatbots can execute the same tasks with greater efficiency, no waiting times, and significantly reduced overhead.

2. The role of Explainable AI, or Explainable Data Science.

Buluwala says the recent passing of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union requires all organisations making decisions using AI or Data Science to explain their decisions – something Baluwala says will impact New Zealand companies too. Organisations dealing with international clients based in the EU will need to comply with GDPR regulations and provide transparency for algorithms used in making decisions.

3. Bias within AI is becoming an increasingly hot topic globally, where AI is used to predict everything from the credit card fraud to preferred cancer treatment. But companies fail to realise that AI is only as good as the data that is used to train it.

“Quality assessment and control of data used in AI systems should be a major focus for enterprises seeking neutrality in their AI systems,” Baluwala says. “Courts in America are currently using AI algorithms to make decisions on how long a criminal should be jailed for. Unfortunately, these algorithms trained on data from previous court decisions might include racial and ethnic biases which can lead to tainted decisions.” 

4. Lastly, Baluwala notes integrating information from multiple sources onto a single platform will also be key in 2018.

This is something Soltius and vendor SAP are already proactively encouraging via SAP’s Leonardo digital innovation platform, which integrates new technologies on the SAP Cloud Platform enabling customers to rapidly adopt new business models and capabilities, as well as add new technologies as they emerge.

About Soltius

Soltius is trusted by more than 80 organisations across Australasia to provide SAP and AWS solutions, support and consulting and has delivered more SAP ERP projects in New Zealand than anyone else. Soltius was formed in 1996 as a specialist SAP implementation partner. Our aim was to build a business known for quality implementation advice and guidance at an affordable price. Since then, Soltius has built the Soltius Support Centre (Asia Pacific’s first SAP Centre of Expertise), was the first to achieve SAP Gold Partner status in NZ and is the only AWS Advanced Tier Partner with both MSP and SAP competencies in Australasia. Soltius has offices in Auckland, Melbourne, Sydney, and Wellington in addition to partners selling our products globally.

Data Science