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Kai Sky Shi, Head of Data and AI, ThoughtWorks

Path to power


As the founder of the lean data innovation methodology, Shi has approximately 20 years’ experience of enterprise digital transformation. He has been employed at IBM, Accenture and EMC as an enterprise solution architect, providing consulting and implementation services for enterprise architecture, IT strategic planning, data strategy and data analysis for many clients. Combining methods of traditional data strategy consulting, lean agility and design thinking, Shi proposed the methodology of lean data innovation and designed the consulting solution of data discovery which have been successfully served to many clients and recognised by the industry after observing and practicing for almost five years. Shi is currently employed at ThoughtWorks, a leading British digital consulting firm, and is responsible for its data and AI department in China. He leads more than 50 data scientists and data engineers to provide data-driven digital transformation services to a large number of enterprises, discover innovations and patterns from data, and manage the uncertainty of data and intelligence innovation with the lean data innovation methodology. He is also an active speaker and evangelist. He frequently publishes his opinions and practices about data innovation and data-driven digital transformation in various forums and summits. He is an influential expert in this industry. To a certain extent, this has promoted the development of the data industry.


What has been the highlight of your career in the industry to date?


In 2014, I finished the first unconventional data planning project and completed this enterprise-level mission in three months which would have taken six months in the past. This project made me realise that the market is ever-changing because of the applications of big data and, also, the traditional data warehouse is not enough to meet the needs of the whole industry. Thus, I have integrated the agile and lean ideas, and finished the first lean data strategy consulting project in just a few weeks, which has since become the prototype of the lean data innovation system methodology.


If you could give your younger self some advice about how to progress in this industry, what would it be?


We are now entering a data-driven digital world. It is crucial to cultivate the data-thinking mindset and master the methods and tools of data as these are the basic requirements for taking the lead in future competition. Data analysis is no longer a unique ability of data scientists.In 2018, I fulfilled the strategic consulting projects of lean data innovation for more than five companies as a leader, and all of the clients were satisfied with our work. This is the most meaningful achievement for me.


What do you expect 2019 to be like for the industry?


I will continue to lead our team to promote the digital transformation of traditional enterprises with data and AI technology. In the meanwhile, I hope to introduce the lean data innovation system to more enterprises, so that more can improve their data and AI capabilities to stand out from the competition.


Talent and skills are always a challenge to find – how are you tackling this in your organisation?


Talents must be cultivated, not just simply recruited. We established a data capabilities labelling system to identify suitable candidates and then let them quickly cultivate the data-thinking mindset through the lean data innovation methodology, allowing them quickly to practice and grow by joining-in challenging, cutting-edge data projects.


What aspect of data, analytics or their use are you most optimistic about and why?


Digital transformation has changed from process-driven to data-driven. To innovate business and empower enterprises by cultivating the data-thinking mindset and using data and intelligent methods, you have to master the lean data innovation methodology.Data and analytics technology/service provider

Kai Sky Shi
has been included in:
  • 100 Enablers 2019 (EMEA)