Strategy needs more than insight for sound business decisions – Yemi Odeneye, Knoze Consulting


Lack of data/proper record keeping is one of the many challenges facing Nigeria, despite the vast amount of data sources available all around us. What we mostly have are large multinational organisations like PWC and KPMG to mention a few who are leveraging on their global expertise and know how in mining and getting data about Nigeria, these firms know more about this country than Nigerians.

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In recent times, data gathering and use have gotten a new use as Data Science, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning have taken centre stage, however, only few businesses owned by Nigerians have broken into this space and one of them is Knoze Consulting; founded by ‘Yemi Odeneye.  BrandSpur Ng caught up with the budding entrepreneur, coach, data scientist and an expert in the use of different analytical tools in his office in Lagos and he had this to say to the team:

Brand Spur: Tell us about yourself.

Yemi Odeneye: My Name is Yemi Odeneye, I had a bachelors degree in Accounting from University of Lagos, Nigeria and my second degree from Lancaster University management school UK, I am a certified Economist. My professional career span across banking. Ecommerce, Market Research and currently in Data science & Analytics. I am a data scientist at Knoze Consulting. I help solve business problems using machine learning algorithms. I manage a team of professionals and coordinate data science projects for different clients across various sectors of the economy especially finance.

Brand Spur: Tell us about your journey into data sciences/Analytics? How did it all begin?

Yemi Odeneye: My transition into data science began in 2011 in the UK. At that time I was doing my masters program. Then it was more of business analytics. This was when I developed the neural pathway for analytics and data science (laughs). However, it took me a while to get to where I am now as it entails several hours of studying and practice. Data Science is a totally new sphere of human endeavor with huge potentials, however, it involves a lot of hard work. Call it sleepless nights – the interesting thing is once it gets a hold of you, it becomes your life. You begin to see how it can bring that extra edge/advantage to the process of getting insights and foresights for businesses. You see the difference it brings and that drives the passion. I must say frankly, since that passion was born in me, it has been the force pushing me in all that I do.

Brand Spur: Tell us about Knoze?

Yemi Odeneye: Knoze is a wholly indigenous consulting firm with partners in the UK, US and India. Though relatively young, Knoze has achieved a lot in its short years of existence. The inspiration on which it was founded has been the bedrock driving and motivating everything we do since inception. Our aim is to be the best data science and analytics firm in Nigeria and Africa. Getting solutions for our clients is our priority. In today’s world sound business decisions need more than findings from traditional market research. It goes beyond gathering insights from analysis to having foresights (ability to predict the future) from data science, AI and ML. Today’s board want to understand the implication of today’s occurrence/decision on the future and how they can position the business or anticipate it.

Brand Spur: What is your perception of the data science/analytics/research space in Nigeria? How has data science/analytics affected insight generation for businesses?

Yemi Odeneye: To the best of my knowledge data science has not actually taken its full course in Nigeria hence, it is pretty difficult to evaluate at this point. Many organisations are yet to adopt and integrate data science into their business processes and also do not have confidence in analytics .

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Brand Spur: As the first certified Knime expert in Africa, How did you achieve that feat?

Yemi Odeneye: I became a certified Knime expert in 2015, and I also had a seminar to teach young data scientists on it use. However, the achievement was through hardwork and unrelenting effort.KNIME is an Agile analytics platform that requires non technical programmers to do data science. Budding data scientist should be willing to sacrifice substantial amount of time to fully immerse into data science discipline irrespective of their background, either HR, Business Admin or Sciences. I also have some published works which I did with Knime on LinkedIn.

BR: What achievements has Knoze made so far? Mention partnership with Rapid Miner and some clients… How will the partnership with Rapid Miner change the landscape and how you do business?

Yemi Odeneye: In the space of 1 year of existence, we have worked with some leading organisations in Nigeria especially a Fortune 500 business, however, the achievement whose prospect I relish the most is the partnership with RapidMiner which was borne out of the need to respond to the demands of the emerging market. Organisations want to be able to do data science with the speed of light, RapidMiner offers a comprehensive unified platform with end to end capabilities that can fit into any organizations IT system.

Brand Spur: What is the future of data science/Analytics in Nigeria?

Yemi Odeneye: I believe Data science in Nigeria holds a great future even though it has not really got the required attention from industries as most companies still prefer to buy off the shelf data science solutions instead of building their own solutions. However, there is hope that more businesses will come to appreciate the importance of data science/analytics in the not to distant future.

Brand Spur: In recent times we have seen many data sciences/analytics agencies springing up in Nigeria as well as the influx of foreign agencies, is this a good or bad sign? What does it mean for the sector?

Yemi Odeneye: On the one hand the influx of data science startups is a welcome idea, as this will be required to drive the data science industry, however we need to be sure that they are really competent and have the right expertise to meet the demand of businesses.

Brand Spur: What does the future hold for Knoze consulting? Where do you see Knoze in 5 – 10 years?

Yemi Odeneye: We see Knoze Consulting becoming Nigeria’s biggest indigenous data science company in Nigeria, sitting at the cutting edge of data driven Innovation within the ecosystem that helps address client business issues. We hope to have expanded across other African countries.

Brand Spur: What is your message to potential entrepreneurs out there? What can they do differently?

Yemi Odeneye: Its quite challenging out there and entrepreneurs should above all be passionate in what they do and not to start up ideas with the whole objective of making profit. When tough time comes, only the passionate gets going.

Brand Spur: Many thanks for your time, we hope to get in touch with you soon.

Yemi Odeneye: Welcome, we are always agile and available (laughs), thanks. Our website is