Meet Adnan | Director Data Analytics & Architecture
“I started developing websites with a friend of mine when I was 14.”
Four years ago, Adnan Bicaj started working at diconium. Today, his title is director data analytics & architecture: a steep career, which he owes not least to his distinct affinity for IT and data as well as his many years of practical experience — and, of course, to his laid-back, easy-going manner. Adnan thus rapidly grew to be a promising “home-grown” leader in his unit.
At the age of 14, he was already tinkering with his first website together with a friend: “It was a kind of guestbook for our village near Tübingen, which people used to communicate with each other. We were the first to do social media,” he says with a laugh. Find out how Adnan used his IT skills to communicate with his relatives in Bosnia (he himself had left the country with his family in 1992 to escape the war), what difference he noticed between the Portuguese and the German mentality and what a normal workday looks like for him nowadays.
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Hi Adnan! Can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do at diconium?
I’ve been with diconium for almost four and a half years now, started in Stuttgart as a working student and then went to Lisbon to do my internship. I’ve gone through the positions of Consultant Data Performance and Senior Consultant Data Analytics and am now the director for data analytics & architecture at the Stuttgart branch.
We are in the middle of the data value chain between the growth area and the data science team, to whom we provide processed data. Our tasks include tag management of websites and apps, data modeling, data enrichment, interdisciplinary development of AI models with our clients, technical SEO, reporting, consulting and much more.
How and when did your interest in these topics develop?
It started very early on, so I’ll have to backtrack a bit. I started developing websites with a friend of mine when I was 14. I always say we were the first to do social media. Why? We developed a website with a guestbook, where people could exchange information. That was the first “social media spot” of our village.
“Our tasks include tag management of websites and apps, data modeling, data enrichment, interdisciplinary development of AI models with our clients, technical SEO, reporting, consulting & much more.”
So, a kind of Facebook?
Exactly, very rudimentary with HTML and CSS. Later on, I received more and more such requests: “Hey Adnan, can you build me a website?”, which developed into a freelance job. Plus, I’ve always been interested in the topic of data analysis, that is, searching for this “data gold mine”. I then delved into that during my studies.
How did you come to know how to build websites at the age of 14? Most 14-year-olds are more on the consumer side, I would say.
Hmm, good question. We fought hard for a computer back then, very hard. My father said: “You don’t need that, what are you gonna do with it?”. I came to Germany in 1992 as a refugee at the age of five, and communication with relatives was somewhat difficult. There were already quite a few Internet cafes in Bosnia, we got a computer as well and learned how to use it. It’s not like I was sitting in front of the computer at the age of five, but I’ve always been interested in technology.
You said that you worked in Lisbon for your internship. Are there any differences between the two locations Stuttgart and Lisbon?
Absolutely. The mentality is completely different. In Lisbon, people come at different times, some early, some late. Then they first have breakfast in peace, then there is a lunch break when people are out and about together. In between, there are a few breaks again, and this can naturally push the working day back. But they don’t mind that at all.
It wasn’t until I got to Portugal that I realized that in Germany you don’t walk, you march, literally. In Germany you march from A to B, in Portugal people take more time and it feels like they see everything in a more relaxed way.
“The mentality is completely different. At our Lisbon branch, people come at different times, some early, some late. Then they first have breakfast in peace, then there is a lunch break when people are out and about together.”
If we jump back to the present time, what does a normal working day look like for you today?
I usually start my day at 9 a.m. with e-mails or calls. This is followed by the first customer appointments on topics such as tracking, advanced analytics and data architecture topics. Nowadays, these topics are increasingly moving in the direction of AI-based models, i.e. advanced analytics methods. Shortly before noon we always have a team stand-up where we discuss task-based topics.
In the afternoon, I usually start with the first operational tasks, although because of my director role these are increasingly decreasing but not yet completely disappearing, which is a good change 😊. I am then often involved in the following operational topics: Tag development, tag plan creation, tracking architecture development, developing business cases with data, dashboarding and advanced analytics methods (timer series models, shopping cart analysis, etc.).
Afternoons are often followed by internal appointments like whiteboard days (team members present different topics) and client meetings / kick-offs. The day usually ends between 5 and 6 pm.
What would you say is the most important skill needed in your job?
“The most important skill is being eager to learn or gain knowledge. I think this skill can compensate for a lot of things, such as lacking competencies in certain areas or thinking outside the box. I think this skill also helps to discover new potential for customers and to develop a multidimensional view.”
Reflecting on your past projects, which one sticks out for you and why?
The production on demand case we developed last year. There, based on visitor numbers, we have developed a model (LSTM neural networks) that can predict the expected online and offline orders. The accuracy of the model is 98%.
What do you think is the key to success in projects?
Team building. If we are strong as a team and support each other, then we will also manage to fulfill all requirements, milestones, etc. Team building is about balancing strengths and weaknesses and if we manage these well as a team, then that is a guarantee for success in my opinion.
What is a digital champion for you?
A digital champion does not just move in one lane, i.e. one discipline. That would be a champion in the respective digital disciplines. A digital champion looks at the data value chain of a company or customer and can identify the potential for optimization, both technical and economical. The view from above is important here in order to understand how digital models work and at which levels levers should be applied.
Individual disciplines play an important role in their own right, but the orchestration of all of them helps to create a balanced and harmonious symphony. A digital champion is the conductor of this digital orchestra and helps with his consulting to develop the best results for his customers.
“A digital champion does not just move in one lane, i.e. one discipline. That would be a champion in the respective digital disciplines. A digital champion looks at the data value chain of a company or customer and can identify the potential for optimization, both technical and economical.”
Why did you decide to join diconium?
Because diconium is big enough to provide certain working structures for employees (HR processes, equipment, training, etc.) but small enough that not everything runs in processes (agency character). A variety of projects is important to me so that I can develop myself and diconium was able to provide me with all this. diconium offers the perfect balance for me here.
What advice would you give a new starter at diconium?
Ask questions. I often find when employees come to us that many ask little to no questions because they think that asking questions would not be appropriate or would put the new employees in a bad light. I think that often seems to be the case with other companies. Questions are an indicator of interest and engagement with topics and help all parties to question their topics but also to quickly familiarize themselves with new topics.
Regarding our value #collaboration: What are the ingredients for successful collaboration in your opinion?
“Honesty and dedication.”