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How data science at Barclays is helping to make a difference

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By Harry Powell

Data science is a relatively new and quite a particular field within the data world – probably not more than five years old. We build applications based on big data and pattern recognition, which on one level puts us somewhere between software engineers and developers, because computers are our tools. But we are also mathematicians, because the interpretation of what we do is relatively subtle.

On top of that, we are commercial and analytical people, asking questions about real world problems that make a difference to the business. So we are trying to build really cool, new products that may help consumers make important decisions about their lives. This commercial and real world side to us is absolutely fundamental to our ability to make a difference. And right at the heart of this is doing things the right way so words like minimisation, annonymisation, aggregation and even motivated intruder tests have become part of our lexicon!

From my point of view, Barclays is a great place to work because of a few key things. Firstly we work with data that reveals preference, and that’s exciting. The second reason is that Barclays is a huge company with lots of customers, so we’ve got a real opportunity to create change. Of course, you can also do exciting things in a start-up as there’s nothing tying you down; you can just grab some data and build your product, and ultimately ten people or maybe a 100 people might use it. But if we can succeed in building the kind of product that allows real customers to make better decisions, then we could have a positive effect on millions of people’s lives. Barclays offers you the organisational leverage that means you can really make a difference here in a way that can’t really happen in a tech start-up.

We’re currently working on some really exciting projects. They’re going to allow us to understand what people want out of their lives in a way that will enable them to make more informed financial decisions about their future. And that’s really what the team is all about: using information to allow all of our customers to get the engagement and support they need in their financial planning.

The more we understand the patterns that exist in the data we hold, the more we should be able to help our customers . If, through pattern recognition and big data technologies, we can reduce the marginal cost of doing so to zero, then we can start to advise everyone on how much they should be saving and help them to plan their future. It’s a little way off yet, but that’s our plan.

At Barclays, technology is helping us deliver innovative customer solutions. Find out more and look through our latest opportunities in retail banking here.

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