10 Golden Rules Of Machine Learning Consulting - What To Know Before Hiring?
Sep 246 min read
IT Marketing Strategist at Ideamotive. Travel addict and remote work advocate.
Planning to implement machine learning solutions in your business? On the market, you will find many companies and people specializing in machine learning, but do you know how to choose the best of them? Especially for you, we have prepared 10 useful tips that will help you make the right decision!
Why do you need machine learning consulting services?
Implementation of solutions based on artificial intelligence machine learning in the company brings many benefits. Therefore, as many as two-thirds of executives think AI in business is crucial for their success.
Among others, it helps to:
save time for monotonous tasks - according to a McKinsey survey, about 30% of current jobs could be replaced by AI and ML by 2030. However, by 2030, it can create up to 50 million new jobs.
increase the company's revenues - AI-based solutions results in 50% more sales;
improve marketing activities - almost 60% of marketers consider that AI and ML can help them identify prospective customers;
efficiently recruit employees - Machine Learning allows us to work on vast datasets and can analyze and shortlist an enormous number of CVs much quicker than humans;
… and much more.
However, an internal IT team may not be enough to create such complex and advanced solutions. That's why it's worth thinking about hiring experts in this field that will help you achieve the best possible results.
Remember that a machine learning consulting company is not only responsible for the implementation of the project you come up with.
First of all, it should be your advisor and, as an expert, propose the best solutions that will be:
achievable to implement;
tailored to your industry and market;
satisfactory to you;
profitable and will allow you to achieve your business objectives.
How to pick the right machine learning consulting company?
1. Define the problem to solve and your business needs.
The first thing you should do is think why you want to use machine learning consulting services. To do it, try to answer the following questions:
What problem do I want to solve?
Do I know how to solve this problem?
What and who can help me with it?
Do I have the data to create a tool that will help me solve the problem?
What are my expectations and business goals?
Do I need to achieve all my goals, or can I focus on one thing?
By answering these questions, you will not only better understand your expectations, but you will also know who you are looking for. Moreover, defined priorities will allow you to prepare a complex brief for the consultant and create a clear ML project implementation strategy.
2. Make sure that consultants have the necessary skills
Building AI- and ML-based projects require a specific skill set. Therefore, Machine Learning consultants should have not only theoretical knowledge about machine learning and artificial intelligence but also a set of critical skills such as:
experience in different ML libraries or frameworks, such as TensorFlow, NumPy, or Caffe;
experience in works on data;
a unique approach to solving problems, including business dexterity and scientific curiosity.
Moreover, because this profession is related to scientific work, it is also essential for ML consultants to have a degree in computer science or related fields.
If a person meets the above requirements - you have found a professional.
3. Take a look at customer reviews.
In fact, it should be an obvious step with most business and purchasing decisions. The opinions of existing customers will allow you to make the first selection of machine learning consulting companies. Find out which one of them has the best reviews and what customers appreciate it for. If there are any friends among their customers, you can ask them for feedback on the cooperation with this company.
To check the reliable opinions of customers, do not just suggest what companies publish on their websites. You can also check the reviews on independent platforms collecting reviews, such as, for example, Clutch.
4. Check the content published on their website.
Real professionals and enthusiasts of Machine Learning are willing to share their knowledge. They can do it in a wide variety of ways - to participate in conferences, record webinars, write blogs, publish books, or reports. One of the most popular activities is the regular publication of expert articles on the blog, where readers can find many interesting tips about not only machine learning, but especially running a business or increasing the company's profits thanks to innovative technological solutions.
So the next step for you should be to check if and what content they publish. It will allow you to verify whether you are dealing with professionals who are open to help and giving useful pieces of advice.
5. Verify if they are active and engaged in the AI or ML community.
Let's stay with the sharing of knowledge. As mentioned above, apart from publishing content on the blog, ML experts should be active in the community. What does this mean? For example, if there is an innovative solution, there is an essential conference on ML - the consultants should get involved in discussions and share their observations.
To ensure that they are engaged in the ML community, you can find out:
What content do they publish in their social media channels?
Do they appear in popular forums or groups focused on topics related to ML&AI such as Quora, Reddit, Stack Overflow, or Machine Learning groups on Facebook?
Do they give interviews as experts in some field related to new technologies?
If you find out that they are active in the community, you have confirmation that they are professionals who not only know their work but are also passionate about it.
6. Check their portfolio.
Another significant thing is to get familiar with the portfolio of a consulting company or projects in which a particular consultant has participated. Each person has different experiences, so, for example, one of them can better prepare an ML-based marketing tool, and another knows better about medical solutions. It is worth analyzing this before making a decision.
A portfolio will allow you to find out what projects they have completed, but you will also get to know the details of their work, such as:
how they approach individual projects,
how they solve problems,
what technologies they use,
What are the effects of their work.
These are critical issues that will help you decide if the way of their work suits your needs and expectations.
7. Find out if the consultants have experience in your industry.
When you have checked the portfolio, it is worth taking a look at the particular solutions and companies that decided to cooperate with them. Maybe among their customers, you will find brands you know and value. The trust of these companies is proof that it is worth working with these people.
On the market, you will find many consultants specializing in selected areas. Therefore, while selecting a person for your project, it is worth matching such a specialist, who not only knows Machine Learning but also has experience in creating solutions for your industry. If it turns out that he worked on projects similar to what you would like to create - great! It's a significant benefit because they probably have interesting insights and conclusions that will be useful in your project.
Knowledge of the industry is also a guarantee that a consultant knows many similar projects, better understand your needs, and will be able to propose better, more tailored innovative solutions.
8. Consider whether their work culture suits you.
Every company has a specific work culture. Some organizations have a very open and flexible approach to their personnel, and others prefer to stick to specific rules. And it's not that any of them are better or worse. It's just that this work culture suits them better.
Creating a solution based on machine learning is usually a long-term process. That's why it's essential to find a company and people who will just fit you. By choosing a machine learning consulting company with similar work culture, you will be able to get along better, and your cooperation will be more fruitful.
9. Find out more about their goals and possibilities
If you preselected the companies you could work with, make an appointment for a consultation, and try to find out:
Does the company really want to help you, or is it only focused on the profits and gaining new customers? Is the first conversation with an expert focus on understanding your needs or on persuading you to use his services?
Does the consultant ask important questions from the perspective of achieving your goal? (Look at the questions we have presented in point 1. If the consultant is a professional, he should try to find out the answers during the consultation).
Are their machine learning consulting services tailored to your needs?
Does the consulting company have the possibility to create a team ready for implementing your project?
Are they able to define how to measure success? If so, how?
Do they offer help and support after the project is completed?
Answers to these questions allow you to make the decision which company suits you the best.
10. Make sure if they are not afraid to say no.
The role of a consultant is to propose the best, but also a feasible solution. If you don't have enough data, budget, or possibilities to realize your idea from A to Z - he should offer you another or less complicated solution.
He knows the specifics of the industry and knows what works best, so don't take it badly if he sometimes disagrees with you. You may have to make a compromise, which allows you to achieve maybe not all, but the most important goals.
If the consultants in the conversation will take the initiative and show their ideas - that's good. This way, you can be sure that you have found professional and helpful partners that you can trust.
If you are looking for professional machine learning consultants or a machine learning consulting company, you have hit the bull's eye! In our network, you will find dozens of experts who will help you create a solution tailored to your needs and achieve the best results.
Michał is a digital marketing veteran with a growth hacking mindset and 10+ years of experience. His goal is building high-quality technological content, with particular emphasis on React and Ruby on Rails. Traveler, climber, remote work advocate.