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Data? Solving the puzzle that sometimes makes you angry

She enjoyed Excel and was passionate about working with data. That’s how Veronika Karásková describes her arrival at Dateio, where she evaluates campaigns as a business analyst. We talked about automation, getting started with SQL and how to use your imagination when evaluating.

Today, in our Data Girls mini-series, we introduce Veronika from the Merchant Analytics team.

What do you work on in the team?
We’re focused on evaluating campaigns from a business perspective. For example, we support merchants the moment they go to reach out to a customer, or when someone reaches out to them, then it’s up to us to do the presales analysis. We show customers that we have great data for them on where they stand. When we get a deal, we do an estimate of the campaign, when it runs out, then we evaluate it and we give the output to our marketers so they can go to the customer. Our biggest customers are gas stations and grocery chains, but we also have restaurants, toy stores, you name it.

What tools do you use and what should the person coming to you know?
Primarily we use SQL, Excel and Power BI. My colleague is learning Python now, we can find a use for that too.

I’ve found Excel to be fun

What does your typical working day look like?
Half of our time is taken up with evaluations. We find a campaign in SQL and run the evaluation. Some of the processes are so automated that we have a script already written, and we just change parameters like campaign name and date. When the campaign is complex, we write the script ourselves, of course. And we also deal with ad hoc things where we need to be more imaginative. A lot of times we have to figure out from scratch what the marketer wants from us and how to deliver it.

How did you get into working with data?
A bit by accident. I majored in economics and worked while I was in college. It was always centered around finance. And while I was into data, for a long time I didn’t know much about data analytics, even simple Excel could throw me off. I wanted to learn how to use it, but never had the time. It wasn’t until one job that it was really necessary, so I took an Excel course and found it quite fun. And that I wouldn’t mind encountering data in other places than Excel. In Dateio, I found out that I would also need SQL, which I didn’t know at all at the time of the interview. However, I knew the Excel thing and seemed enthusiastic, so I took a chance.

How challenging was it? Is it an advantage that you were able to work with SQL straight away in practice?
It was challenging at first, even a simple evaluation took me a long time, especially when I needed to change the way I calculated. But I really started to enjoy it. The advantage with SQL is that it doesn’t have too many instructions at the basic level.

What do you find to be the most important skill or trait of an analyst?
You have to enjoy this job. It requires you to pay attention and really focus. It’s like solving a puzzle. Most of the time I find solving these “puzzles” fun and interesting, and when I find out I’ve made a typo somewhere, I get a little mad and then laugh about it. For example, I find out that I meant to count something in a year, but I set 11 months. When I come across a mistake, I have to go back to the beginning and see where the logical error is, where I’ve misdefined which customers I want to analyze, for example.

I guess it’s true here: more eyes can see more. How do you work as a team?
The work is very individual, we usually divide up the tasks for the week and everyone works on their own. It wouldn’t make sense to have two people doing one assessment. But we check each other’s work. It happens that you don’t notice a mistake because you’ve been working on a problem for a long time. And that’s often where second eyes help.

We’re a company where people like to have fun.

At Dateio, a lot of work is automated. Has the much talked-about issue of artificial intelligence come up yet?
We plan to look at AI especially in the business estimate area. But at the same time we are aware that it has to be set up very well from the start. Because if someone comes to the outputs who doesn’t fully understand what they are doing, there can be a problem. As the AI runs itself, it could be that you’re just regurgitating the results it gives and you might not notice that they’re wrong. You need to reflect on the results as well. And you also need to have a business mindset where you can tell if a campaign is too expensive compared to others.

Have you always had a relationship with that? Or can this business thinking be learned?
I’ve worked in finance-oriented roles, so I guess I’ve always had a relationship. But I’m sure it can be learned, or I guess no one is born to understand finance right away.

What’s the most useful takeaway for your current job?
Probably that I’ve learned about business terms and how they relate to each other. KPIs, ROI, the basics.

Do you have a pet peeve among your tasks?
I’ve been given a report for a client where I’m pulling out data on how they’re doing in the market. That’s what I enjoy the most because I was able to adapt and expand the report I took over from a colleague. I was able to determine what it should look like and what it should contain. I’m not a purely technical or data person, so I wouldn’t enjoy just analysing for the sake of further analysis, but I want to see the finished result.

The company is growing, entering other countries. What does that mean for your team’s work?
I’ve been here since August and yes, it’s changing a lot, there’s a lot of automation, new people are being hired and we have room to learn new things all the time. It means a lot for our work as well, in six months I can see that we’ve moved a lot towards automating everything that’s repetitive. We want to spend the time we save on developing reports just for foreign markets. When a country is added, such as Austria recently, you can’t apply the same procedures to it as you can to the established countries. There are a lot of new clients coming in, so there are new challenges in how some of the assessments are supposed to work. What lies ahead is very interesting for us and for our clients.

And is there time for fun?
Dateio as a company is full of people who like to have fun, so we always find an excuse to have a company-wide event that often goes on into the morning. And that’s just fine.