Recently, I’ve been reading a number of articles about “quants.” That term is short for quantitative analyst. It’s a term, and a job role, that first gained traction in the investment community. But today, it is a term that is becoming ubiquitous with many other businesses and industries.
The role of the quant is essentially to use math and science to make predictions based on data. Wall Street was a place full of data even as far back as the 80’s and, perhaps, is one of the first places where commercial businesses began the process of big data analysis. Today, big data is everywhere. We hear about it on the news, by the water cooler, and we at Kenshoo even write whitepapers about it.
Why am I so interested in quants? Well, I share a house with one, and he is a fascinating fellow. Also, what he does on a daily basis represents a very interesting trend in technology companies today: he is teaching computers to make the same sorts of quantitative assessments that he used to make for investment banks. It’s a fascinating type of knowledge transfer.
At Kenshoo, we are doing similar projects with the development of Halogen to plan scenarios and forecast media. A fundamental component of Halogen is technology that crunches big amounts of data to create forecasting models that used to be generated by humans. Additionally, others are developing similar “quant” tools for other areas of the enterprise. Just go ahead and search online for news related to the term “quants” and you may be surprised at not just how much you find, but about how the growing trend is to automate this once primarily human function.
What’s happening is a migration from companies doing quantitative data analysis in-house to companies purchasing on-demand software solutions that have been developed by the quants, to think like a quant. For companies, this means greater scale, in terms of how many and what types of things they can forecast. It also will have an impact on cost: aside from the obvious cost benefit of using technology rather than humans, much of this technology is being developed on-demand, reducing time to value and total cost of ownership.
Is “Quant as a Service” the new SaaS? Time will tell but, at Kenshoo, we’re building quant-power into our platform to help our clients stay on the cutting edge.