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October 11, 2023

Machine Learning Implementation: 5 Issues to Consider

October 11, 2023
Read 9 min

Machine learning has gained wide popularity, and every day you can hear about new ways of its application. This technology is very promising, but like everything else, it has its complications, especially when it comes to using machine learning for companies. Developers and managers often encounter challenges due to the misestimation of its capabilities and the complexities of its machine learning implementation.

To organize an effective development process, it is important to not only go beyond merely understanding the customer’s needs but also to set the right customer expectations. This involves providing details about the features of machine learning, the peculiarities of ML implementation, as well as drawbacks and advantages of machine learning.

machine learning for companies

What is a machine learning process?

Machine learning is like to having a smart assistant that can automatically create and refine algorithms to solve intricate problems by analyzing extensive data. Gone are the days of tediously searching for crucial patterns in the data manually. Instead, a team of experts should meticulously curate the suitable dataset for training and automate the entire data processing and application procedure. Nevertheless, it is vital to guarantee data quality and continually uphold quality control over the algorithms.

Example

Task:

Create the “recommended goods” section in an online store.

Possible solution:

You can recommend bestsellers to everyone. You can interview sales experts who will suggest that buyers of dog goods should be offered a leash and a collar. However, there’s a catch – these rule sets can become quite complex and sometimes conflict with each other, making your development process feel chaotic.

Machine learning solution:

Now, let’s shift gears and talk about machine learning. There’s a specific area where machine learning implementation excels. Instead of relying on intuition, you provide it with sales data and let clever algorithms analyze the numbers. This process creates what’s called a machine learning model – a set of rules and mathematical calculations based on actual user behavior. These rules have the impressive capability to solve problems independently, such as suggesting the ideal products to your customers. However, here’s the important part: you need a significant amount of data and task-specific algorithms to make this magic possible.

Checklist: how to organize the process of building an ML model

Implementing machine learning has proved to be a very effective tool for addressing various everyday challenges. It can recognize text, power machine translation, suggest your next shopping splurge, and even create chatbots that come to the rescue when you need shopping recommendations of customer support. A machine learning enterprise is well-positioned for success in the digital age. By integrating ML into your operations, you can gain a competitive edge and quickly adapt to changing market dynamics.

To make sure you get the most out of your ML project, we’ve created a detailed checklist that will help you through each step. By following this checklist, you’ll have all the tools and strategies needed for success.

Pitfalls to avoid while working on a machine learning component:

  • Data quality. Underestimating the importance of high-quality data lead to wrong outcomes because machine learning models heavily depend on accurate data.
  • Complexity vs. interpretability. Finding the right balance between complicated models and being able to understand them is very important, especially when using advanced algorithms that might seem difficult to understand.
  • Continuous monitoring. Failing to regularly check and update machine learning models as data changes can make them old and less useful over time.

Point 1. Have you collected all the data sets?

Using machine learning for business it’s necessary to keep in mind two important issues:

  • You need to collect a large amount of data;
  • Be aware that Big Data will not always be of good quality.

Practically useful models are often complex because they need to encompass many business details. Machine Learning necessitates a large number of examples to identify these details.

  • Are the examples used within an ML model different enough?
  • Do they cover all types of customers?
  • Are you sure your data isn’t out of date?

After all, both the market situation and customer behavior could have changed since we started collecting the necessary information. All the data should be verified.

Let’s consider a retail company as an example. They have a large amount of individual sales data. However, the question is: how valuable is this data? While it can help identify trends in demand seasonality and market shifts, things become more complicated when the buyers are anonymous. Simply increasing the size of your data by tenfold may not result in a tenfold increase in useful insights. It’s not just about quantity; the quality and relevance of the data are also important.

Point 2. What to do when you’re running low on data?

So, what do you do when you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of not having enough data to support your machine learning goals? Don’t worry, you still have options:

  1. Clarify the task and adjust the goals;
  2. Collect the missing data again.

In situations where you need data quickly, you can explore options like borrowing or purchasing data. Some companies are open to sharing their data, and platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk can provide valuable resources. For instance, when working with financial models, you can leverage anonymous data from credit bureaus. Additionally, Machine Learning offers a helpful technique called Transfer Learning. This involves using a model trained for one problem to solve similar problems, even with limited data.

Point 3. You got a properly built data set. What is next?

Okay, you’ve got your hands on a decent pile of data. Okay, you have a substantial amount of data in your hands. Now, it’s time to transform that data into an efficient model-building machine, right? Well, not quite so fast. This is where things can become a bit tricky. Modeling is akin to navigating a labyrinth, and misunderstandings can leave you feeling lost in a maze, which, believe us, is not an enjoyable experience. Therefore, to stay on course and uphold your customers’ trust, it is crucial to consider these two pivotal steps:

A. Start with a baseline model. It’s tempting to dive headfirst into building that grand, production-ready model, but that can gobble up quite a bit of time. Instead, begin with a simple model. Think basic Excel formulas rather than deep neural networks, or keyword filtering instead of fancy natural language processing algorithms. A simple, straightforward model sets a sturdy foundation.

B. Define “goodness” metrics. In order to control and improve your model, it is important to measure its performance. This is where “goodness” metrics come into play. These metrics can include measuring sales forecast accuracy or the difference between expected and actual customer growth. By using these metrics, you will be able to objectively assess the effectiveness of new ideas and even small adjustments in your components.

What’s the payoff? You gain clear insight into your starting point and whether you’re heading in the right direction. It’s all about maintaining your bearings as you navigate the complex world of machine learning.

Point 4. So, you’ve got your first model… Is the machine learning journey over?

The initial working model not only demonstrates our success but also allows us to eliminate temporary solutions and address major technical challenges. Paradoxically, this stage also reveals any existing shortcomings more clearly. As a result, the first model typically requires only 25% of the time and effort invested. The remaining resources will be allocated to enhancing this version, acquiring more data, and resolving issues with the ML component used for preprocessing. The more we improve this component, the more effort it will require.

What has changed from the previous step? You now have a new starting point, but you still have the same indicators (metrics) that we will continue to improve.

Point 5. Nurturing your ML model: keeping it fresh

You should not expect that the customer’s behavior will remain unchanged. The external environment and market will inevitably undergo changes. Therefore, any model will require new data and regular updates. At this stage, you will need a set of metrics to monitor the quality of the model. It is crucial to keep the following in mind:

  1. Retraining the model on new data is sufficient to ensure that the quality of work remains at an acceptable level. Let’s continue maintaining this model.
  2. If something undergoes a dramatic change and requires the addition of completely new data, it is necessary to refine the model by returning to the top of this checklist.

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Machine learning benefits and drawbacks

Sure, machine learning can require time, money, and a substantial amount of data and resources. However, why do we continue to advocate for it? Ultimately, it all boils down to the benefits of extensibility and maintainability that it offers.

Consider this: traditional, handcrafted systems often reach a roadblock when faced with changing data or new languages, requiring a complete rewrite. In contrast, machine learning simply needs new training data to adapt. Incorporating machine learning in business analytics can be a game-changer. It improves the accuracy of predictive models, allowing companies to anticipate market trends and optimize their strategies for increased profitability.

In addition, handcrafted systems can become difficult to maintain, leading to crashes or excessive complexity that is hard to comprehend. Machine learning, with its continuous evolution, alleviates these challenges. It is a technology that keeps on providing, automating processes in ways that were previously unimaginable.

Machine learning is constantly expanding its capabilities. Every day you can hear about the automation of a new process in another industry that was not possible before.

In a nutshell, these are the essential prerequisites for successful machine learning component development:

  1. Check your data’s pulse – is there enough of it?
  2. If not, top it up, your data set needs a refresher.
  3. Implement control measures like a metrics system and a baseline model.
  4. Remember, the journey doesn’t end with the first working model; it’s just the beginning.
  5. Even successful components need vigilance and improvement.

Summary

We have explored the journey of implementing a machine learning component, from collecting data to maintaining models. Now, you know how to implement machine learning and can leverage this powerful tool to make informed decisions and stay ahead in your industry.

If you need any assistance with building ML components or if you are looking for a reliable tech partner to help transform your idea into a robust software solution, the specialists at Itexus are here to support you. Contact us to discuss your needs and learn more about how we can assist you.

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