No one was ready to say that the race was rigged. The fact that Jessica Barnett, Regions Bank Data and Analytics manager, won the AWS DeepRacer Event and was one of the organizers of Regions’ fourth annual Data Science Day, was really just coincidence.
Or was it?
Let’s look at the facts:
- The cars were programmed in advance by teams and individuals at Regions.
- The DeepRacer portion of the event and Data Science Day itself were part of a learning exercise designed by Amazon Web Service (AWS).
- AWS touts its DeepRacer events as a way to get teams started using machine learning.
- The cars that the teams programmed were 1/18 scale, autonomous remote-controlled cars.
- The cars were programmed to work their way around a real track, using the machine programming.
- Competitors had a fixed amount of time to race their cars around the pre-set course, with the goal of obtaining the fastest possible lap time.
- The speed of the cars was controlled during the race by remote control.
- The cars “learn” by training on a virtual simulation environment, a replica of the physical track. Once on the real track, they are already trained and using what had already been learned.
- The winner was the person with the fastest lap around the course.
Regions’ Chief Data and Analytics Officer Manav Misra shares how Regions built a data science team, and why it’s important for the company:
Kind of heady stuff. But that is what Regions Data Science Day represents. It’s a chance for individuals within the company who work with data, analytics, machine learning, and data science to come together and talk about their discipline, learn about the innovative ways that the company is using data, and the critical role data science and the uses of data play at Regions.
“This is one of my favorite days of the year. We get to hear from external experts, get to hear about all the great things our teams are doing,” said Manav Misra, Regions Chief Data Officer, who helped kick off the day with a presentation about Regions’ vision and use of data and analytics.
A DeepRacer event at Regions Center highlights the impact of data and machine learning:
“Four years ago, when we created our data science group, we said we wanted to make Regions a best-in-class data-driven organization,” he said. “Now, and at Data Science Day, our focus is self-service empowerment – giving our colleagues credible data, helping them answer questions that they need to answer, and the initiatives we have to help them make decisions based on reliable data.”
Some of the impact of their work can easily be seen in the data products that this team has developed in the last four years. Tools like RCLIQ, RVoice, and others have helped bankers serve customers better, expand relationships and earn incremental revenue.
And while the DeepRacer event was certainly one of the highlights of the day, Data Science Day also featured Regions Data and Analytics leaders speaking about what’s next for the company. Much of the content centered around the critical role that data plays in Regions’ new transformation initiative.
Much of the content centered around the critical role that data plays in Regions’ new transformation initiative, including:
- Increasing the movement of data to the cloud and transitioning to more real-time data uses and the impacts to security, processes and queries.
- The evolution toward more customer-centric and personalized experiences. Regions’ current and future systems have to deliver the right kinds of data in the right environments to do this. But it also requires planning for those new information system needs, their uses, and the processes required to deliver information quickly and in ways that are useful.
- While having data is crucial, the goal is to develop a culture that presents data in collaborative and decision-oriented ways that are intuitive and understandable. That will make the data Regions has and uses even more valuable for its customers.
- Regions has enjoyed much success with its current suite of data products. The next steps? Uses of data that provide highly personalized, real-time, proactive information for customers.
“I promise, there was no way to manipulate the results here,” said a sheepish Karl Crowson from Amazon Web Services as he presented prizes to the top finishers – Barnett, Daniel Stahl and Duncan Lamb. Their car lap times were separated by only a few tenths of a second. Karl wrapped up his comments by adding, “To watch the organization grow and where you’re going is fantastic.”
“I’m not surprised she won,” said Manav. “She and all our data scientists are really exceptional, and we’re fortunate to have them on our team. She and Daniel Stahl, her manager, helped organize the day, the presentations and speakers. The effort shows the value that our team brings to Regions. So, yes, she won because she’s just that good.”
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